Center for Biological Diversity: Protect Penguins and Whales from Industrial Fishing

December 19th, 2006 4:42 pm by Kelly Garbato

Via the Center for Biological Diversity:

Act Now! Comment Deadline This Week-Dec. 26! Protect Penguins and Whales from Industrial Fishing

In the movie “Happy Feet,” the penguins, elephant seals and other wildlife of Antarctica face starvation as a result of industrial fishing fleets depleting the fish these animals rely upon for food. Unfortunately, this part of the movie is not entirely fiction. Industrial fleets fishing for krill and toothfish (marketed in the United States as Chilean Sea Bass) ply the rich waters of the Southern Ocean, catching not just the target species, but seabirds and marine mammals as well. In some areas the fishing pressure is intense enough that food competition with penguins and marine mammals is likely.

Officials within the Bush administration apparently haven’t seen “Happy Feet” – or if they have, they’ve ignored the message. Last month the National Marine Fisheries Service completed its environmental review on a plan that would open the door to increased harvest of krill, icefish, and toothfish, essential food for penguins, seals and whales. The plan also would make it easier for illegally caught toothfish to be imported into the United States; authorizes a new toothfish longline fishery that poses a threat to albatross and whales; allows a trawl fishery that drowns Antarctic Fur Seals; and permits destructive bottom trawling.

Nevertheless, the happy ending of “Happy Feet” is still possible. The National Marine Fisheries Service is accepting comments on its management plan for Antarctic fisheries until Dec. 26. Take action today and demand that fishing for krill and toothfish be banned in Antarctic waters and that imports of toothfish into the U.S. be suspended.

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