Environmental group targets Dungeness crab fishery in lawsuit

The Center of Biological Diversity (CBD) announced Oct. 3 it filed a lawsuit against California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, alleging the state agency is responsible for recent whale and sea turtle entanglements.

At least 19 humpback whales, two blue whales and one leatherback sea turtle were reportedly found entangled off the California coast last year, according to CBD’s lawsuit; the Endangered Species Act protects the animals. Any entanglement of a humpback whale or leatherback sea turtle would be a violation of federal law.

“Entanglements in ropes connected to heavy commercial Dungeness crab traps cause injuries and death as the ropes cut into the whales’ flesh, sap their strength and lead to drowning,” CBD staff said about the lawsuit filing in a statement.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife could be found in violation of the Endangered Species Act, if the federal district court determines the state agency is responsible for the recent reports of whale and sea turtle entanglements.

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