U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service unable to account for millions of dollars Congress allocated to pay whistleblower incentives.
According to an exposé by environmental journalist Richard Schiffman published today by Earth Island Journal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has no “proactive whistleblower program despite receiving $13 million” from the federal government earmarked to pay whistleblower incentive rewards. The report states that in response to a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) filed by the National Whistleblower Center, the FWS admitted that it is unable to account for most of the funds Congress allocated for this purpose. Requested records found that the agency can only account for $13,704 of the $5.6 million granted to it during the period between 2003 and 2016.
The article recounts the plight of the Vaquita, the world’s smallest cetacean, which have decreased by 50% over the past 6 years and are rapidly headed toward extinction. The Vaquita are impacted by the high demand in China for bladders from a species of fish called the Totoaba. They end up in nets designed to entangle the Totoaba and drown, as unintended bycatch.
In regard to implementing existing whistleblower reward laws and passing new anti-trafficking legislation, Kohn said “We don’t have time to waste. Extinction is forever, and the clock is ticking.”