Description: Lawsuit to compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to issue updated stock assessment reports under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, including for species threatened by climate change impacts.
Center for Biological Diversity v. Haaland
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 10/20/2021 Order Download Motion to dismiss granted, with leave to amend complaint. Federal Court Said Complaint Did Not State Marine Mammals Protection Act Claim. The federal district court for the Northern District of California granted a motion to dismiss two conservation groups’ lawsuit asserting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) failed to revise Stock Assessment Reports for nine stocks of sea otters, polar bears, walruses, and manatees protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act (MMPA). The court found that the plaintiffs had representational standing to bring their claims based on their alleged lack of information, lack of opportunity to comment, and potential downstream effects of the defendants’ failures to revise the Stock Assessment Reports. The court further found, however, that the plaintiffs had not sufficiently alleged a violation of the FWS’s MMPA duties. Although the MMPA requires annual or triennial reviews of stock assessments, the court said the plaintiffs had not adequately alleged that the FWS did not conduct them. To the extent claims were based on allegations that the defendants should have revised the Stock Assessment Reports due to alleged changes such as climate change-induced impacts on mammals’ habitats, the court said the plaintiffs’ allegations were not adequate to establish that revisions were required. The court gave the plaintiffs until November 5, 2021 to file an amended complaint addressing the deficiencies identified in its decision. 02/18/2021 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Lawsuit Alleged Failure to Update Stock Assessments for Marine Mammals to Reflect Climate Change Impacts and Other New Information. Two organizations filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the Northern District of California asserting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to comply with its non-discretionary obligation to issue updated stock assessment reports under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The plaintiffs alleged that despite the MMPA’s requirement that the stock assessments be updated every year or every three years, depending on a species’ vulnerability, the stock assessments for some species had not been updated for more than a decade even though significant new information—including, for example, the depletion of sea ice on which polar bears and walruses depend and the impacts on sea otters from the die-off of kelp stemming from climate change—had become available.