Statement on the Center for Biological Diversity’s whale lawsuit

On October 3rd the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and its management of the Dungeness crab fishery. In response, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations executive director Noah Oppenheim issued the following statement:

“California crab fishermen and women take the health of the ocean incredibly seriously. Without a healthy ocean we simply cannot fish. This is why we do everything we can to avoid whales when we fish, and fishermen have risked life and limb to help whales escape in some of the rare instances in which they do become entangled. This is also why commercial crab fishermen and women are already working hard together with an organized varsity team of state and federal scientists, environmental groups, and the professional marine mammal rescuers themselves to develop and implement best practices for our fishery. Our voluntary efforts are already working: entanglements are down 81% in 2017 and we are incredibly proud of this progress.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s lawsuit is disappointing because it seems designed to divide rather than unite the very groups who are already committed and working hard to finding proactive solutions. This litigation may also end up diverting limited state resources away from developing practical solutions, safety and environmental enforcement at sea, and the sustainable management of our fisheries.

We urge CBD to abandon this divisive and unilateral litigation, ditch its sideline tactics, and instead get back on the team with the rest of us who are serious about finding solutions for the good of a healthy ocean, California’s coastal communities, and seafood lovers everywhere.”