One small win for the whales — er, well, the false ones.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has settled a lawsuit filed in June by Hawaii enviros who want to save the rare “false killer whale” dolphins getting caught in fishermen’s unsustainable “longlines” which can stretch for miles and catch up all kinds of collateral sea creatures. After dropping the ball on the rules last year (as the feds are wont to do), the settlement will require new, more protective regulations by the end of November.
False killer whales are actually dolphins, the third largest kind. The cetaceans are covered by several international conservation agreements aimed at keeping them not dead. They’re also one half of the mating pair (with a bottlenose) which produce the hybrid “wholphin” (i.e. they are awesome and don’t deserve to die).
The dolphins are accidentally caught in the longline fishery at high rates, in part because they eat many of the same fish the fishermen are catching. The hooks snag false killer whales when the dolphins try to eat the fish caught on the lines.
Members of one false killer whale group living in water up to 60 miles from Hawaii have been killed and seriously injured at three times the sustainable level for the population, the lawsuit said. Another group — in water farther off the coast — is being killed and injured at four times the sustainable rate.
As for all those troubled swordfish those fishermen are really after? The feds say swordfish stock has been completely rebuilt following a late ’90s campaign to “give them a break” (uhh), but those caught on longlines are still considered an “avoid” on many sustainable fish-eating guides. CNN seems to think longlines are the problem, not overfishing. This week it highlighted swordfish longline alternatives in Miami.
OK, sorry, here’s one more whale pic to wash that fish meat porn out of your eyes.