NMFS may be sued for failing to protect White Marlin

On September 18, 2003, the Centerfor Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Networksent the Secretary of Commerce and Director of the National MarineFisheries Service (NMFS) a 60-day notice of an intent to sue NMFSin federal court for its failure to protect the Atlantic whitemarlin under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

On August 31, 2001, the Biodiversity Legal Foundation andJames R. Chambers jointly petitioned NMFS to "list" the Atlanticwhite marlin as a "threatened species" or as an "endangeredspecies" and to designate its "critical habitat" under provisionsof the ESA. On September 9, 2002, NMFS issued its decision that"listing" was not warranted. NMFS did so even after acknowledgingthat the population had declined to just 6 percent of itspre-longlining (1960) abundance, that it had been declining formore than a decade at a consistent rate of 3 percent each year, butthat NMFS would not consider it at "risk of extinction" until itsabundance had declined to 1 percent.

The 60-day notice begins the process of seeking legalprotection for the Atlantic white marlin (and in the process,protection for Atlantic blue marlin, North Atlantic swordfish andwestern Atlantic sailfish as they all depend for their survival onmany of the same critical habitats) from the well-documentedravages of decades of commercial over-exploitation, particularlythat conducted in their primary spawning sites and feeding areas(those of the North Atlantic sub-populations of all these stocksare mapped on the www.bigmarinefish.com website).