Anchorage, Alaska— The Center for Biodiversity today filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit concerning the conservation of Arctic ringed seals. The intervention is intended to defend the federal government’s refusal of Alaska’s efforts to end endangered species protection for seals.
Alaska, North Slope Borough and others petitioned to delist the species in 2019. The National Marine Fisheries Service dismissed the petition in 2020, concluding that the petition failed to “provide substantive scientific or commercial information” to justify delisting the seals. rice field. Petitioners challenged that decision in federal court in Alaska in late 2022.
“We cannot stand by as ringed seals lose important endangered species protection,” said Kristen Monsell, the Center’s Marine Legal Director. “Science is clear that climate change continues to destroy the sea ice habitat that seals need to survive.”
The presence of seals on the endangered species list has a controversial history. The Center originally petitioned to list the species in 2008, and the National Marine Fisheries Service listed the species as endangered in 2012. The state of Alaska, the oil industry and others challenged the listing rules in federal court in Alaska, and the Center stepped in to defend them. list.
In 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the agency’s decision to list the species. The court found that climate change models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show ringed seal habitats are declining as sea ice recedes and “reasonably supports.”[t] A determination that sea ice-dependent species are likely to be endangered in the near future. The 2019 delisting petition included many of the same arguments that the Ninth Circuit dismissed.
“The ringed seal has a chance to survive thanks to the Endangered Species Act, but we need to quickly reduce the habitat-destroying greenhouse gas pollution,” Monsell said. “If we do not act ambitiously to tackle climate change, we will face a lonely future on a planet devoid of seals and many other wonderful creatures.”
Ringed seals give birth in snow caves on sea ice. Climate change is reducing Arctic snow cover, collapsing caves and making puppies vulnerable to freezing and death from predators.The Arctic is warming almost four times faster than the rest of the planet .
Inclusion in the Endangered Species Act provides ringed seals with enhanced protection from oil and gas exploitation, as well as from greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. The seal list does not affect subsistence harvesting of species by Alaskan Natives.