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News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

On Wednesday, February 8 from 6:30pm – 9:30pm, Oakland Zoo’s ‘Conservation Speaker Series’ welcomes the public to attend a presentation by Ewaso Lions, an organization dedicated to promoting the coexistence between local people and lions in Northern Kenya through education, employment, and advocacy. Guest speaker, Paul Thomson, Co-Founder of Ewaso Lions will be presenting the lecture. Lion numbers across Africa have declined significantly, a main cause being direct conflict with humans. Lions in Northern Kenya are especially vulnerable to conflict because they live near areas inhabited by nomadic pastoralists and come into regular conflict with local people over livestock depredation. Conflict occurs when lions attack livestock and herders retaliate by fatally shooting, spearing or poisoning lions. “Ewaso has created life as it should be when it comes to living with wildlife. With power, connection and heart, Ewaso Lions illuminates a clear path to co-existence of humans and animals,” said Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director at Oakland Zoo. Ewaso Lions takes a unique approach to human-wildlife conflict that works. Employing local young men as warriors who respond to conflict and prevent loss of livestock to lions has had a profound impact on the local communities. Ewaso has also created the ‘Mama Sambas’, a powerful group of women stepping up for the cause. To inspire and connect children to their majestic natural heritage, local children attend a Lion Kids Camp. Ewaso also teaches herders how to build strong bomas and work in partnership with the conservationists. “Not many people know that lions are in serious trouble across Africa. In Kenya, we are finding surprisingly simple solutions that help local people live alongside lions. We have hope for the future of Kenya’s lions," said Paul Thomson, Co-Founder of Ewaso Lions. −    The evening will feature opportunities for the audience to Take Action for Wildlife at the event by bidding on a BEHIND THE SCENES EXPERIENCE with Oakland Zoo’s own lion coalition. This drawing will raise funds to send a child to Lion Kids Camp. −    Oakland Zoo invites attendees to bring school supplies to the event to be donated to the Scouts, Warriors and Mama Simbas who are all studying to further their ability to create a sustainable livelihood for their own future and that of their lion neighbors. The Conservation Speaker Series will take place in Oakland Zoo’s Zimmer Auditorium, located at the lower entrance of the Zoo. Attendees can enjoy light refreshments. Parking is free and the admission price for the evening’s speaker presentations is $12.00 - $20.00 per person (sliding scale). All proceeds from this event will be donated to Ewaso Lions. For additional information about Oakland Zoo’s Conservation Speaker Series, please contact Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director, at amy(at)oaklandzoo.org ABOUT PAUL THOMSEN: CO-FOUNDER & DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY AND DEVELOPMENT, EWASO LIONS Paul co-founded Ewaso Lions and provides program strategy and organizational development. He also serves on the board of the Kinship Conservation Fellows program. Paul cofounded Save Pangolins and was selected for the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services and Defenders of Wildlife. He studied Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale. ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO: The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid's activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide; with 25¢ from each ticket donated to support conservation partners and programs around the world. The California Trail, a transformational project that more than doubles our size, opens in 2018, and will further our commitment to animal care, education, and conservation with a focus on this state’s remarkable native wildlife. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information, go to: http://www.oaklandzoo.org


News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: marketersmedia.com

— It seems that everyone loves the decadent goodness of malt milkshakes from the 1960s because the Kickstarter campaign from Malty the Bear for their upcoming Artisanal Hot Cocoa blend inspired by malt shakes of 60s has successfully reached their initial funding goal of $1000. The small business aims to develop Malty the Brear which will be a delicious hot chocolate drink blend using high-quality ingredients. Gaia Tea is hoping that more people will join their campaign as it nears the end of its successful run on Wed, March 8, 2017. The people at Gaia Tea were not expecting such a tremendous response from the online crowd for their latest product, the small company has a tradition of bringing great tasting, high-quality products that they know people will enjoy and the Malty the Bear Hot Cocoa blend will be no exception. The spokesperson for Gaia Tea said, “This is our third project. With your help and encouragement, this project has also been a success. We have successfully made and exceeded our goal and as promised you will be charged what you pledged and you will get your fantastic rewards.” The hot cocoa blend will contain a combination of the highest quality of cocoa powder, delicious honey crystals, and the rich malted milk powder, all combined and packaged in an adorable 9 oz Malty bear glass jar with a gold lid. Gaia Tea plans to win the hearts of both adults reminiscing about the rich goodness of malt milkshakes from the 1960s and the children who enjoy sweet, chocolatey and nutritious drinks. The popularity of the idea is evident from the response it received from the backers, who helped Gaia Tea achieve their funding goal in only 32 hours. To commemorate the achievement, Gaia Tea announced that they have adopted a Grizzly Bear from Defenders of Wildlife, which is an organization that works on the ground, in the courts, and on Capitol Hill to protect and restore imperiled wildlife across North America and around the world. An update released by Gaia Tea upon the achievement of their funding goal read, “We've reached our goal in 32 hours! Every one of you is amazing and inspire us to make the best product ever. We were so moved by your support that we adopted a Grizzly Bear from Defenders of Wildlife.” To learn more about Malty the Bear Artisanal Hot Cocoa blend and support the project please visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/522597745/malty-the-bear About us: Gaia Tea is the brainchild of two siblings. One chef and one web magician. For more information, please visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/522597745/malty-the-bear


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.washingtonpost.com

A Senate hearing to “modernize the Endangered Species Act” unfolded Wednesday just as supporters of the law had feared, with round after round of criticism from Republican lawmakers who said the federal effort to keep species from going extinct encroaches on states’ rights, is unfair to landowners and stymies efforts by mining companies to extract resources and create jobs. The two-hour meeting of the Environment and Public Works Committee was led by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who said last month that his focus in a bid to change the act would be “eliminating a lot of the red tape and the bureaucratic burdens that have been impacting our ability to create jobs,” according to a report in Energy and Environment News. In his opening remarks, Barrasso declared that the act “is not working today,” adding that “states, counties, wildlife managers, home builders, construction companies, farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders” have made that clear in complaints about how it impedes land management plans, housing development and cattle grazing, particularly in western states, such as Wyoming. Barrasso’s view is in lockstep with the Trump administration, which wants to cut regulations that impede business, particularly energy cultivation. Last week, the Interior Department under President Trump delayed the start date of protections for the endangered rusty patched bumblebee, which has lost an estimated 90 percent of its population in the past two decades. The department said it is reviewing rules set by the Obama administration only weeks earlier, triggering a lawsuit from a nonprofit conservation group that called the delay and the review illegal. At least one Republican has vowed to wage an effort to repeal the Endangered Species Act. “It has never been used for the rehabilitation of species,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said, according to an Associated Press report. “It’s been used to control the land. We’ve missed the entire purpose of the Endangered Species Act. It has been hijacked.” The Endangered Species Act is a 43-year-old law enacted under the Nixon administration at a time when people were beginning to understand how dramatically chemical use and human development were devastating species. It has since saved the bald eagle, California condor, gray wolves, black-footed ferret, American alligator and Florida manatee from likely extinction. But members of the hearing said its regulations prevented people from doing business and making a living. In a comment to a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director who testified at the hearing, Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), repeated a point made by Barrasso that of more than 1,600 species listed as threatened or endangered since the act’s inception, fewer than 50 have been removed. That’s about 3 percent of the total, the chairman said. “As a doctor, if I admit 100 patients to the hospital and only three recover enough to be discharged, I would deserve to lose my medical license,” Inhofe said. There was no discussion on the committee about the stability of species that were listed and recovered as a result of the act, and also no discussion of continued human expansion into the habitats of hundreds of species as their numbers dwindle. Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) tried to make the point with a question to five members of a panel called to testify about the act: Former Wyoming governor David Freudenthal, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation President James Holte, Defenders of Wildlife chief executive Jamie Rappaport Clark and Association of Zoos and Aquariums chief executive Daniel Ashe. Referring to research published in the journals Science and Conservation Biology that the rate of extinction across species is 1,000 times the rate before human expansion, Carper asked the panelists whether they believed the finding that Earth is on the verge of a sixth mass extinction. Each panelist who testified the act should be significantly changed — Freudenthal, Myers and Holte — said they weren’t qualified to answer such a question. Rappaport and Ashe, the most recent directors of Fish and Wildlife under presidents who are Democrats, emphatically answered yes. Amid the din of criticism of the act, Carper asked why it was needed in the first place: Weren’t states that manage their individual animal populations aware that some species were disappearing? Why didn’t they act faster to save them before federal officials brought regulations? Freudenthal took a stab at a reply. “Only in the last 15 years have state game agencies shifted to species management,” he said. “Now agencies have a much broader mission.” In the years that states were less engaged, according Freudenthal, the total number of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, among others, have declined by half, Ashe said. He added that the act could use tweaking, but hardly needs an overhaul. “The Endangered Species Act is the world’s gold standard” for government conservation, Ashe said. “It’s not perfect. It can be better. Your goal is to make it … stronger and better.”


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.washingtonpost.com

On the eve of a Senate hearing Wednesday to consider “modernization of the Endangered Species Act,” an environmental conservation group sued the Trump administration for halting implementation of federal protections for the first bumblebee in history placed on the endangered list. The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit against the Interior Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service it oversees for delaying protections for the rusty patch bumblebee from Feb. 10 until at least mid-March without allowing public comment or hearings. The bee’s status as an endangered species was finalized in early January under the Obama administration. [This bumblebee was everywhere. Now it’s the first bee ever on the endangered species list.] “The Trump administration broke the law by blocking the rusty patched bumblebee from the endangered species list,” the NRDC said in a statement announcing its suit filed at a federal court in New York. “The science is clear — this species is headed toward extinction, and soon. There is no legitimate reason to delay federal protections for this bee. Freezing protections for the rusty patched bumblebee without public notice and comment flies in the face of the democratic process.” The striped black and yellow pollinator with a long black tail “once flourished in 28 states and two Canadian provinces,” the NRDC said. “But the bee’s population and range have declined by approximately 90 percent in the last 20 years.” Officials at the Interior Department declined to comment on the lawsuit, but a department spokeswoman, Heather Swift, said the agency “is working to review this regulation as expeditiously as possible and expects to issue further guidance on the effective date … shortly.” Last week the agency announced that it published a notice of the delay in the Federal Register, overstepping procedures that involve notices of public hearings, the hearings themselves and comment from the public that can take up to a year. Wildlife conservation groups described the delay and the upcoming Senate hearing led by Republicans as attacks on the 43-year-old Endangered Species Act. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee did not define what “modernization” meant, leaving one conservationist to offer her own definition. “Modernization of the Endangered Species Act is code for gut and weaken,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and chief executive of Defenders of Wildlife. “The Endangered Species Act works. It has stopped extinction of 99 percent of listed species.” Clark is one of two leaders of conservation groups scheduled to testify at the hearing. The other is the recently departed Fish and Wildlife director under Obama, Dan Ashe, who is now president and chief executive of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Others scheduled to testify include David Freudenthal, the former governor of Wyoming, a state that successfully fought a proposed federal threatened or endangered listing for the greater sage grouse. That chicken-like bird’s population plummeted as the western sage brush was developed, grazed by hundreds of thousands of cattle and opened to mineral mining and natural-gas drilling that drove the birds from their habitat. Gordon S. Myers, executive director and president of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, is also scheduled to testify. The commission resisted a federal Fish and Wildlife program to restore critically endangered red wolves by establishing a population in North Carolina. It issued a resolution calling on the agency to remove them from private lands in the red wolf recovery area near the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. [The government was letting residents kill nearly extinct wolves. A court put a stop to it.] Last September, a federal district court in North Carolina issued a preliminary injunction barring the Fish and Wildlife Service from capturing and removing red wolves in the state or issuing permits that allowed private landowners to kill the animals when they stray onto their property. Following a lawsuit filed by several nonprofit environmental groups, Judge Terrence W. Boyle of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina ruled that Fish and Wildlife was “enjoined from taking red wolves, either directly or by landowner authorization without first demonstrating that such red wolves are a threat to human safety or the safety of livestock or pets.” Any other decision would ignore that Congress had mandated the program to prevent the extinction of red wolves, the judge said. Scientists say the government’s new plan to save red wolves is backward The world just agreed to the strongest protections ever for endangered species The horn and ivory trade is obliterating elephants and rhinos


News Article | March 3, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

PHOENIX (AP) — Wildlife officials say they have evidence of a rare jaguar sighting in the United States, giving conservationists hope that the endangered cat is re-establishing itself here. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a photo Thursday from a trail camera that was taken in November and recently retrieved. It shows the spotted cat wandering through the Dos Cabezas Mountains in Arizona about 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Jeff Humphrey says it's the farthest north of the border that a jaguar has been seen in decades. "The significance is that we're getting a clearer understanding of where jaguars occur in the borderline area," Humphrey said. It's been decades since a jaguar was spotted in that mountain range, he said. Officials say they can't tell the jaguar's gender or age from the photo. The two other jaguars that have been recently spotted were both male, and Arizona Game and Fish officials have said a female jaguar hasn't been spotted in decades. But conservationists think the latest sighting is evidence that the jaguar is returning to the U.S. after decades away. They say a possible border wall could stop that. "What it means is that this majestic animal is trying to return to its homelands in the United States. There is habitat in the United States for this animal, for this beautiful cat," said Bryan Bird, the southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife. Bird said he hopes the government will consider the fate of jaguars if a border wall is built, as President Donald Trump has promised. Watch TV shows, nature videos and more on Yahoo View, available on iOS and Android. He said it's likely that the three jaguars spotted in the U.S. have come from Mexico through rugged areas where it would be difficult to build a wall anyway. Bird also said he hopes the latest discovery will persuade the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to amend its proposed jaguar recovery plan, which the Defenders of Wildlife says does not do enough. The proposed plan is focused on efforts to sustain habitat, eliminate poaching and improving social acceptance of the animal rather than recommending reintroduction. The plan was published on Dec. 20 and is up for public comment until March 20. The first jaguar to be recently seen, dubbed by wildlife conservations as "El Jefe" — Spanish for "the boss" —popped up in the Whetstone Mountains in southeastern Arizona in 2011 when he was about 3 years old. He was seen again in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson around September 2015. A trail camera photo taken on Dec. 1 in a mountain range near Fort Huachuca, the Army installation about 75 miles southeast of Tucson, captured a second jaguar that was seen on camera again in January. Around seven jaguars have been documented in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico since 1996. Arizona, New Mexico and other parts of the southwestern U.S. were home to jaguars before habitat loss and predator control programs aimed at protecting livestock eliminated them over the last 150 years.


News Article | February 25, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

FILE - This undated photo released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a thorny skate, a bottom-dwelling fish whose habitat in the In the north Atlantic Ocean ranges from Greenland to South Carolina. The federal government says the thorny skate will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act. Environmental groups argued that the thorny skate's decline in the northwest Atlantic Ocean was considerable enough to afford it protections set aside for endangered animals. But the National Marine Fisheries Service says it disagrees.(T. Curtis/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via AP) PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The thorny skate's population may have declined, but not by enough to justify listing it under the Endangered Species Act, the federal government has ruled. Environmental groups had argued that the bottom-dwelling fish's population loss in the northwest Atlantic Ocean was considerable enough to afford it protections set aside for endangered animals. But the National Marine Fisheries Service disagrees. Documents published in the Federal Register on Friday state that the fisheries service has concluded the thorny skate is "not currently in danger of extinction" in all or a significant piece of its range. The service said the fish is also not likely to become in danger of extinction soon. The agency agreed with the petitioners that surveys of the skate have declined over time. Recent catch surveys show less than 5 percent of the peak they reached in the 1970s, the report stated. However, the skates "remain numerous throughout the greater portion of their range, numbering in the hundreds of millions," the report stated. The thorny skate ranges from Greenland to South Carolina. Animal Welfare Institute and Defenders of Wildlife called on the federal government to offer the fish Endangered Species Act listing, which could've led to habitat protection or new fishing restrictions. The skates live in the Gulf of Maine, a key commercial fishing area, and the call to protect them generated some resistance from fishing groups. Tara Zuardo, an attorney for Animal Welfare Institute, said Saturday that the group is disappointed by the government's ruling, and disagrees that the skate is not being subjected to overfishing. "Climate change and other factors continue to impact this species," Zuardo said. Fishermen have been prohibited from harvesting the thorny skate commercially since 2003. The fish are sometimes taken as bycatch in other fisheries, including by vessels that seek cod and some that seek other skates. Skates have commercial value as bait as well as food, with the meat frequently appearing as "skate wing" on menus. It tends to be a little less expensive to consumers than other kinds of fish.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: motherboard.vice.com

Framed as a "modernization" of one of the world's most effective and hearty environmental laws, Republicans in Congress signaled a renewed assault on the Endangered Species Act on Wednesday. At a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing, Republicans used tempered language and veiled questions to avoid admitting their true aim: gutting the ESA. During the hearing, committee members talked about bipartisanship and strengthening the Endangered Species Act, but there's long been acrimony from the GOP over the law because of how it can impede businesses from profiting off of natural resources. "It was really tactical, because to come out guns blazing on a law that is so popular with the public would have just set up a battle," said Jamie Rappaport Clark, the president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, who testified at the hearing. "But ultimately they'll have to reconcile what they do with what they say." From 1997 to 2001, Clark was the director of US Fish and Wildlife Services, which is largely tasked with implementing the ESA. She told me the committee members actions in Congress tell a different story than the one presented at Wednesday's meeting, and show that Republicans are still determined to weaken the ESA. Established in 1973, the Endangered Species Act is a watershed environmental law that requires the federal government to favor science and data while making every effort to conserve the species listed as threatened or endangered under the act. It's very effective, but it's also contentious: Republicans have been trying to dismantle the act since the 90s, and the most recent Congress lobbed a record 135 bills aimed at weakening the ESA. But now, emboldened by a Republican-majority Congress and an anti-regulation administration, the GOP is signaling big moves to cripple the conservation law. They've already started introducing new bills to shift power away from the federal government and prevent the act from being enforced. One bill, introduced Tuesday by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY)—the chair of the environmental and public works committee—has to do with litigation over the ESA. All of the US's major environmental statutes have clauses that allow private citizens to take the government to court if they don't believe the law is being properly enforced, and if they win, the government has to pay the private party's legal fees. It's become an effective tool for environmental groups to leverage more action out of the government, and is a major sticking point for Republican critics of the ESA. Barrasso's bill would require the government to create an online, searchable database of all these lawsuits, the parties involved, and how much it cost the government. Barrasso has stated that this is directly intended as a first step towards preventing environmental groups from getting fees reimbursed for these lawsuits, which would it much more difficult and costly for groups to hold the federal government accountable. "It's absolutely absurd that Washington pays outside groups to repeatedly sue our government," said Barrasso in a press release. The hearing was sparsely attended—at one point only a single committee member remained—due to a number of Senate votes happening at the same time. Most of the attendees were Republican senators, who criticized a lack of state-level autonomy in species conservation, a slow delisting process, and the burdens the ESA sometimes places on private land owners. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) highlighted Iowa's efforts to conserve the monarch butterfly in order to prevent it from being listed under the ESA. "This is a great example of where Iowa has really stepped up to the plate," Ernst said. "We would much rather see that than heavy handed government approaches." But while there's consensus that the way the government implements the ESA could be improved, experts like Clark argue that's better done through administrative reform—like doing a better job communicating to states about species that might be at risk, and letting the states work on a solution first—rather than by making drastic changes to the law. "The real elephant in the room is funding—if the law was funded anywhere near the level that would be essential to its effectiveness, you would see a lot of these problems erode," Clark said. "If we lose this law, we're going to lose it forever."


News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: motherboard.vice.com

Former attorney general and fossil fuel pal Scott Pruitt was confirmed to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today, with a vote of 52-46. Two Democrats, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, both from oil producing states, crossed party lines in support of Pruitt. After a month of complying with a White House "gag order", the agency's first public communication in almost a month was a congratulatory message to Pruitt. Many EPA employees are decidedly not looking forward to welcoming him to the agency. Groups of EPA staff members, both current and retired, have vocally opposed Pruitt's confirmation on the basis that he is unfit to serve America's environmental and public health interests. For most people working in the science community, there's no overstating the egregious conflicts of interest his nomination flags. Pruitt sued the EPA 13 times as Oklahoma's attorney general. He was called "a key architect of the legal battle against Mr. Obama's climate change policies," and let fossil fuel companies draft letters he had sent to former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson. "Scott Pruitt is anti-environment, anti-science and anti-regulation. His ascension to lead the Environmental Protection Agency flies clearly in the face of our government's responsibility to protect our air, water and wildlife. It is a strange time indeed when someone with such disdain for the mission of the EPA now heads this critically important agency," Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, said in a statement. The agency has been among President Trump's biggest targets for upheaval. Both Trump and Pruitt oppose the EPA's position on climate change science (basically, that climate change exists and is manmade), and seek to limit its powers. Trump is expected to sign multiple Executive Orders this week at Pruitt's signing-in ceremony. It's unclear what those rules will be, but federal policies like the Clean Water Act and Clean Power Plan, which would limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, are certainly on the chopping block. We can only wait and see how the EPA will respond to that.


News Article | February 25, 2017
Site: hosted2.ap.org

Thorny skate will not be added to endangered species list (AP) — The thorny skate's population may have declined, but not by enough to justify listing it under the Endangered Species Act, the federal government has ruled. Environmental groups had argued that the bottom-dwelling fish's population loss in the northwest Atlantic Ocean was considerable enough to afford it protections set aside for endangered animals. But the National Marine Fisheries Service disagrees. Documents published in the Federal Register on Friday state that the fisheries service has concluded the thorny skate is "not currently in danger of extinction" in all or a significant piece of its range. The service said the fish is also not likely to become in danger of extinction soon. The agency agreed with the petitioners that surveys of the skate have declined over time. Recent catch surveys show less than 5 percent of the peak they reached in the 1970s, the report stated. However, the skates "remain numerous throughout the greater portion of their range, numbering in the hundreds of millions," the report stated. The thorny skate ranges from Greenland to South Carolina. Animal Welfare Institute and Defenders of Wildlife called on the federal government to offer the fish Endangered Species Act listing, which could've led to habitat protection or new fishing restrictions. The skates live in the Gulf of Maine, a key commercial fishing area, and the call to protect them generated some resistance from fishing groups. Tara Zuardo, an attorney for Animal Welfare Institute, said Saturday that the group is disappointed by the government's ruling, and disagrees that the skate is not being subjected to overfishing. "Climate change and other factors continue to impact this species," Zuardo said. Fishermen have been prohibited from harvesting the thorny skate commercially since 2003. The fish are sometimes taken as bycatch in other fisheries, including by vessels that seek cod and some that seek other skates. Skates have commercial value as bait as well as food, with the meat frequently appearing as "skate wing" on menus. It tends to be a little less expensive to consumers than other kinds of fish.


News Article | February 25, 2017
Site: phys.org

Environmental groups had argued that the bottom-dwelling fish's population loss in the northwest Atlantic Ocean was considerable enough to afford it protections set aside for endangered animals. But the National Marine Fisheries Service disagrees. Documents published in the Federal Register on Friday state that the fisheries service has concluded the thorny skate is "not currently in danger of extinction" in all or a significant piece of its range. The service said the fish is also not likely to become in danger of extinction soon. The agency agreed with the petitioners that surveys of the skate have declined over time. Recent catch surveys show less than 5 percent of the peak they reached in the 1970s, the report stated. However, the skates "remain numerous throughout the greater portion of their range, numbering in the hundreds of millions," the report stated. The thorny skate ranges from Greenland to South Carolina. Animal Welfare Institute and Defenders of Wildlife called on the federal government to offer the fish Endangered Species Act listing, which could've led to habitat protection or new fishing restrictions. The skates live in the Gulf of Maine, a key commercial fishing area, and the call to protect them generated some resistance from fishing groups. Tara Zuardo, an attorney for Animal Welfare Institute, said Saturday that the group is disappointed by the government's ruling, and disagrees that the skate is not being subjected to overfishing. "Climate change and other factors continue to impact this species," Zuardo said. Fishermen have been prohibited from harvesting the thorny skate commercially since 2003. The fish are sometimes taken as bycatch in other fisheries, including by vessels that seek cod and some that seek other skates. Skates have commercial value as bait as well as food, with the meat frequently appearing as "skate wing" on menus. It tends to be a little less expensive to consumers than other kinds of fish. Explore further: Environmental groups want thorny skate on endangered list

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