The Army Corps of Engineers failed to protect bottlenose dolphins and other marine life in the Mississippi Sound and Lake Borgne by opening the Bonnet Carre Spillway in 2019 without obtaining proper permits under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Mississippi.
The suit was filed by the cities of Biloxi, D'Iberville, and Pass Christian, along with Harrison County, the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association and Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United, Inc. It asks the U.S. District Court in Gulfport to declare that the Corps failed to get a permit from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration before the 2019 openings of the spillway that would allow an “incidental take” — killing, injuring or harassing the dolphins — as required under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The local governments and other organizations are all members of the Mississippi Sound Coalition.
“The Mississippi Sound, our way of life, really, and our whole economy are in grave danger,” said Gerald Blessey, manager of the coalition and former mayor of Biloxi, at a Monday morning news conference announcing the suit.
“The Bonnet Carre Spillway is killing our dolphins and other marine life. Scientists have referred to the bottlenose dolphin as a sentinel of the health of the whole marine ecosystem. So the dolphins are telling us something. We must listen to the…