Today, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced that it is beginning a one-year review to determine whether to delist the Southern Resident population of killer whale from the Endangered Species Act. The agency’s decision is in direct response to a delisting petition submitted by Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of the Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy, and Reliability, as well as two Central Valley farmers whose water supply is threatened by the orca’s ESA listing.
NMFS has determined that PLF’s delisting petition contains “substantial information” supporting a delisting. Therefore, the ESA requires that the agency conduct a further one-year review to determine whether delisting should in fact occur. NMFS made its determination based on PLF’s argument that new genetic information indicates that the Southern Resident killer whales are not genetically distinct, in a meaningful way, from killer whales throughout the world.
NMFS’s decision in favor of sound science is particularly gratifying to PLF and its clients in light of the strident, and frankly unfair and misdirected, criticisms hurled at PLF’s petition when filed back in August. We now anxiously await the agency’s final decision on the delisting petition, which we expect in August, 2013.