Mississippi Localities and Organizations Sue U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Over Dolphin Deaths

Four Mississippi localities joined with a fishing industry organization and a lodging and tourism association to file a Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to protect bottlenose dolphins in the Mississippi Sound. Plaintiffs argue that, by opening the Bonnet Carré Spillway and allowing 10.5 trillion cubic feet of polluted fresh water from the Mississippi River into the Sound, the Corps caused “takes” of dolphins. The takes described in the complaint include dolphin mortalities and occurrences of painful lesions on their skin from extended exposure to low-salinity or fresh water. Plaintiffs are seeking declaratory judgment, an order requiring the Corps to comply with MMPA requirements, and an order requiring the Corps to “take action to avoid take of bottlenose dolphins through operation of the Bonnet Carré Spillway,” as well as fees and costs.