The Tana River in northernmost Norway is the most diverse Atlantic salmon river in the world. Its native salmon population has declined dramatically and resulted in a fishing ban that has affected indigenous life and distressed the local economy. Concern is mounting over the secondary infestation of Pacific pink salmon, transplanted decades ago, which creates a potential threat to the river’s genetic diversity and challenges the regime structures of international fisheries.
State wildlife agencies commonly claim they are entitled to manage wildlife under the public trust doctrine (PTD). This assertion is frequently made in judicial proceedings, with state requests that their managerial authority be given due force throughout state, private, federal, and even tribal lands. One might conclude that a rich body of PTD practices and policies exists for wildlife; in reality, the PTD in state wildlife management proves to be ephemeral.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service raises important questions about the scope of the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA’s) protections for critical habitat. Foremost among them is a question one might think was long settled: what is “habitat”? In a short ruling, the Weyerhaeuser Court opined that “critical habitat” must first be “habitat,” but it did not attempt to define exactly what habitat is or how much deference the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should get on what is both a biological and policy question.
This Article, adapted from Chapter 16 of What Can Animal Law Learn From Environmental Law?, 2d Edition (ELI Press, forthcoming 2020), explores existing and potential wildlife conservation policies that could play a vital role in mitigating global climate change. It describes how climate change is impacting wildlife and biodiversity around the globe and reviews the history and current state of U.S. policy, including how the federal government currently manages climate change issues under the ESA.
The Endangered Species Act defines an endangered species as one at risk of extinction “throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has repeatedly defined “significant portion” to mean an area of the range essential to species persistence. This definition is redundant, and various iterations of the definition have been struck down in the past. At the same time, other proposals to list a species only in a portion of its range fail to satisfy the statutory requirements.
The U.S. Department of the Interior and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently finalized comprehensive changes in how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is implemented. These changes address the species listing process, critical habitat designations, protections for threatened species, and the §7 consultation process.
Federal dams have been the focus of major disputes involving application of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), especially its §7 prohibitions on federal actions causing jeopardy to protected species. Operating agencies and project beneficiaries have sought to keep the ESA from restricting dam operations, including by arguing that such operations are non-discretionary and thus exempt. In proposing new ESA implementing rules, the Trump Administration suggested, but did not formally propose, that ongoing federal actions should be considered part of the “environmental baseline” for §7 purposes.
Electronic Reporting and Monitoring in Fisheries: Data Privacy, Security, and Management Challenges and 21st-Century Solutions
As human populations have more than doubled since 1960, pressure on wild fish stocks has increased dramatically. This Article argues that the establishment of an electronic reporting and monitoring regime in U.S. fisheries is both necessary to ensure compliance with statutory imperatives to manage them according to best available science, and essential for continued long-term viability of the U.S. fishing industry.
Above my desk at work, I keep a button that reads "Save the Ugly Animals Too." It is a reminder that more than just the charismatic megafauna, such as wolves and bald eagles and grizzly bears and whales, are worth conserving. From the standpoint of protecting the web of life, including the ecosystems that benefit us all by providing services such as water purification, flood control, nurseries for our fish and shellfish, and opportunities for outdoor recreation, it is often as important to conserve the lesser known species, the cogs and wheels that drive those ecosystems.
In a recent essay, Katrina Wyman suggests four substantial reforms aimed at improving implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and furthering species recovery: (1) decoupling listing decisions from permanent species protection;3 (2) requiring the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to implement cost-effective species protection measures;5 (3) prioritizing funding for biological hotspots;6 and (4) establishing additional protected areas.