Trump administration considering extra protections for endangered whales off California coast

Eighty-eight whales have died from ship strikes in California since 2006, according to officials.
The Trump administration announced it is looking at new ways to protect endangered whales off the California coast after environmental groups threatened to sue over regulations of shipping lanes that they say violate the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Citing shipping lanes in Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Friends of Earth send a letter to the Trump administration on March 2 notifying officials that they would sue the administration if it continued to ignore evidence that a growing number of whales are being injured by ships along the state's coast.

At least 10 whales in California were killed in 2018 by ship strikes, which is one of the leading causes of death and injuries to whales who migrate along California's coast, according to a joint statement from the two environmental groups.

Eighty-eight whales have died from ship strikes in California since 2006, they said.

U.S. Coast Guard officials said they are consulting with the National Marine Fisheries Service to create new regulations, which may include mandatory speed limits in shipping lanes. The regulations would also protect sea turtles, another endangered species that has fallen victim to ship strikes in California.

"Science should guide how shipping lanes are selected and managed. Speed limits on our highways save lives, and we need speed limits in shipping lanes too, to protect endangered marine animals," said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

The environmental groups also expressed concern about shipping lanes in the San Francisco Bay.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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