On Wednesday, a legal representative of the Center for Biological Diversity alongside Cook Inletkeeper took legal action against the National Marine Fisheries Service, which is also known under the name NOAA Fisheries.
The lawsuit aims to hinder rules which would let specific gas and oil operations by Hilcorp Alaska with the possibility of harming or disturbing marine life by exposing it to loud noises.
The CBD has requested a mitigation plan in order to decrease the effects on the belugas and other marine animals to the lowest possible level. Their analysis also showed that the new rules wouldn’t influence the decrease in the population of beluga whales in Cook Inlet in any way.
According to the analysis of possible effects, scheduled activities, and a monitoring and mitigation program, the CBD stated that the work wouldn’t have consequences on the whales.
Julie Speegle, who is an agency’s spokeswoman, asserted that the policy is not to give details on litigation. The message was sent to Hilcorp’s spokesperson as well and awaits a response.
In the lawsuit, they claimed that the analysis wasn’t as meticulous or extensive as it should have been. Furthermore, experts have alerted that the noise exposure from gas and oil operations would bring the whales at risk of extinction.
The Marine Mammal Commission made known that there were approximately 1,300 animals in 1972, but the number of beluga whales decreased dramatically in the ‘90s because of unsustainable subsistence harvesting. In 2008, these animals were marked as endangered.
Interestingly, the lawsuit indicates that even though there was no hunting of this species in a long time, the population isn’t recovering. And, unfortunately, there are only 330 whales left.