Baykeeper Sues Federal Agency for Failing to Meet Endangered Species Act Requirements

Baykeeper Sues Federal Agency for Failing to Meet Endangered Species Act Requirements

Fish and Wildlife Service Missed Congressional Deadlines to Protect Longfin Smelt 

Oakland, California—San Francisco Baykeeper late last week filed a lawsuit against the US Fish and Wildlife Service for violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The agency proposed listing the SF Bay-Delta population of longfin smelt as an endangered species in 2022, but failed to meet a deadline established by Congress in the law to make a final listing determination and to designate what counts as critical habitat for the imperiled fish.

Baykeeper put the agency on notice October 11 that it would take legal action unless the agency issued the required rulings. These rulings were required by statute on October 7, but the agency has failed to meet its legal obligations.

The agency initiated its now delinquent proposal to list longfin smelt following a series of legal actions by Baykeeper and allied organizations dating back to 1992. The most recent monitoring data for longfin smelt in San Francisco Bay shows that populations have crashed more than 99 percent since 1967.

Baykeeper is represented in this legal action by Michael Lozeau, of the Oakland-based public interest law firm Lozeau Drury LLP.

San Francisco Baykeeper staff attorney Ben Eichenberg issued the following statement:

“The Fish and Wildlife Service must stick to the deadlines established by Congress and the Endangered Species Act. Baykeeper will hold the agency responsible to fulfill its duties under the law, and to the people of the Bay Area.

”Baykeeper and our allies have been pressuring the agency for decades to protect the longfin smelt. Now that we’re in the final stretch, it’s disappointing that they’re delaying yet again. Longfin smelt need the full protection of the ESA to survive, and we can’t let a recalcitrant agency drive this fish population unique to San Francisco Bay into extinction.”