$82 Million Has Been Dedicated To Saving The North Atlantic Right Whale With Less Than 340 Remaining

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced its plans for the historic $82 million provided by the Inflation Reduction Act to save the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. These plans come amidst a contentious battle on Capitol Hill between scientists and environmental organizations on one side and industry groups on the other over a proposal by NOAA Fisheries to update its 2008 vessel speed regulation. 

The plans include dedicating an estimated $35.8 million to monitoring and modeling, about $20.1 million to vessel strike risk reduction efforts, about $17.9 million to support on-demand fishing gear, and about $5 million to enforcement efforts, new equipment, technologies, and operations.

“The critically endangered North Atlantic right whale’s population is declining faster than they can reproduce. We applaud NOAA’s plans to protect right whales from the dire threats of entanglements and vessel collisions,” said Kathleen Collins, IFAW’s senior marine campaign manager.

“However, with less than 340 North Atlantic right whales remaining in the wild, every loss is a catastrophic blow, and we are disappointed by the lack of funding directed at field efforts such as disentanglement, stranding response, and necropsies, which are essential to help keep individual right whales alive,” continued Collins.

IFAW is leading the way in whale conservation by developing methods to save injured and entangled whales at sea. This is the only project on the East Coast of the United States that has the equipment and experienced personnel to deliver medications to fight infections caused by extensive injuries or sedatives to calm right whales so they can be disentangled. Additionally, by performing necropsies on stranded right whales, IFAW’s team determines their cause of death and assesses the whales’ health. They use this critical information to evaluate the efficacy of existing conservation policies and inform future policies needed to ensure population recovery.

IFAW recently announced the results of a survey of Americans’ views on wildlife conservation, animal welfare, and climate change. Data shows that 89% of Americans think it is important to protect endangered species like the North Atlantic right whale. Meanwhile, 80% of Americans support slower vessel speeds, and 75% support fishermen using new technologies.

In the fall of 2022, NOAA proposed changes to vessel speed limits to further reduce deaths and serious injuries among right whales. These changes are still being evaluated against substantial opposition from professional and recreational mariners, but they are necessary for the North Atlantic right whales’ survival as a species.

Under these new regulations, dynamic speed zones established when whales are known to be in an area outside of a seasonal zone, would become mandatory instead of voluntary. The rule would be expanded to cover vessels 35 feet or longer, as approximately 40% of documented strikes since the rule was established involved vessels less than 65 feet long. IFAW urges NOAA to enact this proposed rule change, as this would directly reduce the risk of vessel strikes to right whales.

In addition, the safe navigation provision would be expanded to cover not only safe navigation, but also medical and other emergency situations, including inclement weather conditions, for 35 to 65 foot vessels.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

More on this topic

Popular stories

Outdated Offshore Drilling Plans Linked To California Oil Spill That Killed Wildlife Will Be Reviewed By U.S. Government

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) agreed this week to review outdated plans for offshore oil platforms near Huntington Beach in Southern California....

Federal Court Orders Lawsuit To Proceed After A 2021 Oil Spill In Huntington Beach, California, Killed Wildlife & Damaged Beaches

A federal court recently allowed a lawsuit challenging the failure of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to review outdated plans for offshore oil platforms...

WAN Exclusive With Eduardo Goncalves, Founder Of Campaign To Ban Trophy Hunting About Prohibiting The Import Of So-Called Animal “Trophies” Into The UK

Another year, another trophy hunter posing for photos on social media with endangered animals that he killed for so-called “sport.” Forty-four-year-old, father of three,...