Description: Challenge to the National Marine Fisheries Service’s designation of critical habitat for the Arctic subspecies of the ringed seal and the Beringia distinct population segment of the Pacific bearded seal.
Alaska v. National Marine Fisheries Service
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 02/15/2023 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Alaska Challenged Critical Habitat Designations for Ringed and Bearded Seals. The State of Alaska filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Alaska challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS’s) designation of critical habitat for the Arctic subspecies of the ringed seal and the Beringia distinct population segment of the Pacific bearded seal. Alaska asserted that the critical habitat designations—which it said consisted of “an enormous area covering all or virtually all of [each] seal’s range within the United States’ jurisdiction”—violated the Endangered Species Act and Administrative Procedure Act. Alaska contended, among other arguments, that NMFS acted arbitrarily and capriciously by failing to explain how designation of critical habitat would protect sea ice essential habitat features. Alaska’s allegations in support of this argument included that NMFS failed to explain how Section 7 consultation on the impacts of discretionary federal actions on critical habitat would result in protection of sea ice essential features at risk from future climate change.