Lawsuit to protect humpback whale habitats settled in federal court

Humpback whale file art. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

A settlement was reached Friday between the Trump administration and activists fighting to protect Pacific humpback whale habitats where the animals face threats from fisheries, ship strikes and oil spills, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

The agreement, filed in federal court in San Francisco, requires the National Marine Fisheries Service to follow a requirement in the Endangered Species Act to designate critical habitats by June 2019 and finalize the boundaries by June 2020.

Two Pacific Ocean humpback populations were listed in 2016 as endangered and a third was listed as threatened, Catherine Kilduff, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

"While delaying these protections, the Trump administration proposed opening the Pacific up to offshore oil drilling and letting fishing gear tangle dozens of humpbacks," she said. "This agreement ensures the whales will finally get the protections they need."

The lawsuit was brought by the center in conjunction with the Turtle Island Restoration Network and the Wishtoyo Foundation.