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Defenders of Wildlife, et al. v. National Marine Fisheries Service

Several endangered species of whales – including the extremely vulnerable right whale – are commonly entangled in fishing gear, which impedes movement and feeding and often causes fatal infections and drowning. Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), NMFS has been required to issue new Biological Opinions (BiOps) to consider the fisheries’ impacts since 2003. These BiOps would include measures to reduce entanglement risk. In May 2010, HSUS filed a lawsuit challenging NMFS’s failure to evaluate the impacts of four Northeast fisheries (the lobster, Northeast multispecies, spiny dogfish, and monkfish fisheries) on endangered whales. Our case alleged that NMFS’s delay in issuing the BiOps violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the ESA. In September 2010, the government agreed to issue new BiOps for the four fisheries by the end of October 2010, and agreed to pay HSUS reasonable attorney fees incurred in the lawsuit.


Court or Agency: Federal District Court for District of Massachusetts
Plaintiffs: Defenders of Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States
Defendant: National Marine Fisheries Service
Outside Counsel: None
Status: Completed
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