Groups sue to halt fishery project
Several conservation groups are suing the National Marine Fisheries Service in an attempt to halt an experimental swordfish longline fishery in the Pacific.
The federal court lawsuit was filed Thursday by the Center for Biological Diversity, The Ocean Conservancy and the Sea Turtle Restoration Project of Turtle Island Restoration Network. The groups were represented by Earthjustice.
The groups allege the National Marine Fisheries Service's decision to grant a permit to itself, allowing fishing for profit in areas banned to longline fishing, jeopardizes endangered sea turtles.
"NMFS is trying to create a loophole to allow swordfish fishing to continue, even after its own scientists have warned that the so-called experiment is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the turtles," Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff said.
Marydele Donnelly, a scientist for The Ocean Conservancy, said that although the leatherbacks and loggerheads are on the brink on extinction in the Pacific, the fisheries service is "sacrificing these animals relentlessly."
The Honolulu office of the National Marine Fisheries Service was not immediately available for comment.