Federal Court Upholds “Endangered” Listing for Cook Inlet Belugas

A federal court in Washington D-C has upheld the “endangered species” listing of Cook Inlet’s Beluga Whales.

The Parnell Administration had sued to overturn the 2008 listing by the National Marine Fisheries Service by arguing that the whales were recovering and did not need the extra protection that came with the listing.  It also claimed endangered protection would be an economic blow to the tourism, oil and fishing industries.

The Center for Biological Diversity was one of six groups that intervened in the case.  Alaska Director Rebecca Noblin said the decision leaves in place all the protections that went along with the listing.

It still has its critical habitat in the Cook Inlet,  there’s a recovery team working on a plan to help recover Belugas and that work will go forward, and all of the prohibitions to protect the whale will stay in place so the federal government can’t allow any activities that will jeopardize the Beluga or destroy its habitat in Cook Inlet.

The state has the option to appeal the decision, but no decision has yet been made on that.  Noblin says an appeal would be a – quote – “waste of taxpayer money on frivolous challenges. “

Attorney General John  Burns said the state has not decided on its options,  but said he believes the process used by the federal government was defective in not involving the state – or in considering conservation measures that were already in place at the time of the listing.