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World-renowned Chefs Join Call to Boycott Bluefin Tuna

For Immediate Release, January 18, 2011

Contact: Catherine Kilduff, (415) 644-8580

World-renowned Chefs Join Call to Boycott Bluefin Tuna

Chefs Alice Waters, Dan Barber Among More Than 25,000 People in 99 Countries Backing Boycott to Save Imperiled Tuna From Overfishing

SAN FRANCISCO— Two of the United States’ leading chefs have joined the Center for Biological Diversity’s campaign to save bluefin tuna, one of the world’s most imperiled fish. Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, Calif., and Dan Barber, owner of Blue Hill in Manhattan, have signed a pledge not to serve bluefin in their restaurants. They join more than 25,000 people in 99 countries who have pledged not to buy or eat bluefin or frequent restaurants that serve it.
Bluefin boycott

“In the sustainable food movement, the chefs at Chez Panisse and Blue Hill are important leaders with long track records of combining exquisite food and environmental ethics. We’re happy they’re lending their voice to this urgent campaign to save bluefin tuna,” said Catherine Kilduff, a Center staff attorney. “Chefs and restaurant owners make vital decisions every day about what foods they buy and serve. By choosing not to serve bluefin, these chefs are helping to keep this remarkable fish from slipping closer to extinction.”

The Center launched the bluefin boycott Nov. 30 after the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas refused to act to protect the species. The western Atlantic tuna stock has dropped by more than 80 percent since 1970; the eastern Atlantic stock dropped by 74 percent between 1957 and 2007.

“Chez Panisse connects with our local purveyors on a daily basis to purchase for and plan our menus and, most importantly, to keep informed of the current conditions, shortages and crisis in our waters and on our farms and ranches. Thirteen years ago when our Bay Area fish purveyor, Monterey Fish Market, notified us about the overfishing of bluefin tuna we immediately stopped serving it,” said Chef Jean-Pierre Moullé of Chez Panisse. “To this day we are in support of rebuilding the bluefin tuna population and the restoration of our beautiful oceans.”

“Last week I saw a picture of a record-breaking, $396,000 bluefin tuna just off the auction block. As chefs and people who love to eat are shaping food fashions like never before, we ought to be getting it right. And a picture like this says we are most definitely not getting it right. If we have the power to popularize tuna to the point of extinction — which we’ve done, with dizzying speed and effect — we also have the power to get people to rethink what they eat, and that should include bluefin tuna,” said Barber.

Bluefin, which remain a staple in some sushi restaurants, have been declining for decades due to overfishing. High prices spur rampant illegal and unreported fishing.

Aside from launching the boycott, the Center has also petitioned the federal government to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna under the Endangered Species Act. The government must make a decision by May 24, 2011, whether or not to list Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Bluefin tuna are oceangoing fish that can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh 1,200 pounds. Unlike almost all other fish, they are warm-blooded and able to regulate their body temperature, which helps during their epic transatlantic journeys. Top ocean predators, they sometimes hunt cooperatively, much like wolves. With streamlined bodies and retractable fins, they can bolt at speeds of 50 mph, crossing oceans in weeks.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies the western Atlantic bluefin tuna population and the southern bluefin tuna as critically endangered with an “extremely high” risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future. IUCN classifies eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna as endangered, meaning that it faces a “very high” risk of extinction in the wild in the near future.

Please visit bluefinboycott.org to sign the pledge, and share the Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bluefin-Tuna-Boycott-Join-the-Bluefin-Brigade/107330386001726).

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Court Orders Endangered Species Protection for Flat-tailed Horned Lizard — for the Third Time


SAN FRANCISCO— In response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and a number of other groups, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to deny the flat-tailed horned lizard protection under the Endangered Species Act was illegal and again ordered the agency to consider protection for the lizard.

“The flat-tailed horned lizard is severely threatened by urban and agricultural sprawl and needs protection as an endangered species to survive,” said Noah Greenwald, biodiversity program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “With today’s court decision, we hope the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finally gotten the message that it cannot legally deny this imperiled species protection.”

Significantly, the decision rejected a Bush administration policy developed by the solicitor of the Department of the Interior in 2007 that required the Fish and Wildlife Service to ignore loss of historic range when determining if species warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. The decision observes that “the Secretary clings to his argument that lost historical habitat is largely irrelevant to the recovery of the species, and thus the ESA does not require him to consider it,” and then roundly rejects this position, concluding that past court decisions require “the Secretary to analyze lost historical range.”

“This decision goes beyond the flat-tailed horned lizard by seriously undermining the Bush administration’s position that loss of historic range is not a basis for protecting species under the Endangered Species Act,” said Greenwald. “The courts have determined today that the Bush administration’s emergency-room approach to species protection — in which only species that are on the brink of extinction everywhere are protected — is plainly illegal.”

The flat-tailed horned lizard inhabits portions of southern California (Riverside, Imperial, and San Diego counties), Arizona (Yuma county), and northwestern Mexico (Sonora, Baja Calif. N). It is severely threatened by habitat destruction caused by urban and agricultural sprawl, off-road vehicles, and other threats.

“Fifteen years after first being proposed for the endangered species list, the flat-tailed horned lizard has not fared well under past administrations’ efforts to derail its listing,” said Kara Gillon, senior staff attorney with Defenders of Wildlife. “This is the third time that a court has told the Fish and Wildlife Service to go back and review its refusal to protect the flat tailed horned lizard under the Endangered Species Act. These lizards need these protections now more than ever, if we are to avoid the loss of this species and the dwindling wild places that form its last refuge. We’re hoping that the third time’s the charm; these lizards are running out of time.”

The species was first proposed for listing in 1993. The proposal has since been withdrawn three times with conservation groups successfully challenging each withdrawal in court. The groups involved in the latest court challenge include the Tucson Herpetological Society, Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Horned Lizard Conservation Society, and Sierra Club, who were represented by attorneys Neil Levine, a private attorney, and Bill Snape, senior counsel with the Center for Biological Diversity.

As the common name suggests, the species is recognized by its broad, flattened tail but also has long, sharp horns on its head, two rows of fringe scales along its abdomen, a dark stripe along its backbone, and concealed external ear openings. Adults range in size between 2.5 and 4.3 inches long, excluding the tail.

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