ecosystem blog

Right Whales Need Your Help

Miami Waterkeeper submitted a letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) urging them to use their authority and protect the critically endangered right whale. In the Atlantic Ocean, lobster and crab fishing are pushing right whales to extinction.

North Atlantic Right Whale (Source: NOAA Fisheries)

Commercial fishing lines connecting traps on the seafloor to buoys at the water’s surface are entangling a shocking number of right whales. According to the latest estimate, only about 360 right whales exist on Earth. Since that estimate took place, at least 45 right whales have died or suffered life-threatening injuries largely due to fishing line entanglement.

The new rules the federal government has proposed concerning right whales do not go far enough. They propose the use of “weak ropes” (or “weak inserts”), which have not been proven to be safer for right whales. It’s likely the fishing industry would employ more ropes to compensate–therefore making life even more dangerous for this critically endangered species. These ineffective measures would take at least a year to implement, and we don’t have that kind of time.

If right whales are to avoid extinction, NOAA Fisheries must use its emergency authority to stop the use of vertical buoy lines where large numbers of right whales live. These critically endangered animals might be able to rebound if NOAA enforced this prohibition while encouraging the use of ropeless fishing. Scientists estimate that 85% of right whales have been entangled at least once, and over 50% of right whales have been entangled multiple times.

We could be facing the first human-caused extinction of a large whale. The public comment period is open through March 1, 2021. You still have time to pressure NOAA to take Emergency Action and save the right whale. Click HERE to submit your comments to the Federal Register. Make your comment as long or short as you want–but make your voice heard and share this vital comment window with your network.

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