WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the Right Whale Coexistence Act, legislation that establishes a new grant program to fund collaborative research between government agencies, non-governmental organizations and marine industries to reduce human impacts on North Atlantic right whales. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA-06) introduces complementary legislation to the House.
Although North Atlantic right whales have been officially protected from whaling since the 1930s, they are vulnerable to ship strikes and entanglements in fishing gear, the two leading causes of injury and death. of the species today. Since 2017, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration first reported an unusual mortality event for North Atlantic right whales, the species’ population has continued to decline, and the highest population estimate recent estimate of 2021 is the lowest estimate in the last 20 years.
“Despite continued efforts to protect North Atlantic right whales, the species is struggling to recover, with fewer than 340 whales currently remaining,” Senator Booker said. “I am proud to introduce this bicameral legislation which will fund a collaborative and comprehensive approach between the public and private sectors to help protect this iconic and highly endangered species.”
“This bill will put the North Atlantic right whale population on the road to recovery,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Decades of human exploitation, collisions with ships and entanglements with fishing gear have tragically brought these beautiful animals to the brink of extinction. With only critical numbers of whales in our waters, the grant program established right whale coexistence law is urgently needed to preserve our marine ecosystems.
“For those in the first state lucky enough to have seen the right whale from our beaches – or for anyone who knows the importance of maintaining a diverse and vibrant marine ecosystem – we know we must act before it’s too late. “Senator Carper said. “With this bill, we can once again commit to keeping our oceans healthy, our planet protected and the right whale safe for generations to come.”
“While the recent growth in the number of endangered North Atlantic right whales offers a glimmer of hope, these fragile advances are not enough to save the species without further intervention,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Our legislation will help protect these wonderful creatures from threats to their survival.”
“The New England coast is an important area for North Atlantic right whales to feed and feed. Our coastal communities, in turn, depend on the whales to support a healthy marine ecosystem,” said the Congressman Seth Moulton: “This legislation will create new opportunities to save these critically endangered animals. We cannot let another species go extinct on our watch.”
In addition to establishing a new grant program, the Right Whale Coexistence Act:
- Specify that state and tribal agencies, research institutes, nonprofit organizations, vessel owners and operators, members of maritime industries such as fishing, shipping, and boating, and any other entities with the expertise required for the conservation of the North Atlantic right whale can apply for grants.
- Ask the Secretary of Commerce to prioritize projects that have the greatest likelihood of reducing the impacts of fishing gear entanglement and vessel strikes, while prioritizing projects that involve industry stakeholders private sector that will bring economic benefits to small businesses in the United States.
- Require periodic reports to Congress on the results and effectiveness of the program.
The Right Whale Coexistence Act has been endorsed by the following companies and organizations: Animal Welfare Institute, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, Born Free USA, Center for Biological Diversity, Cetacean Society International, Conservation Law Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, EDF Renewables, Endangered Species Coalition, Environment America, Environmental Investigation Agency, Humane Society Legislative Fund, the Humane Society of the United States, Inland Ocean Coalition, International Fund for Animal Welfare, International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute, Marine Mammal Alliance Nantucket, NY4WHALES, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oceana, Oceanic Preservation Society, Ocean Conservation Research, Ørsted, the Pew Charitable Trusts, Save the Manatees Club, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, World Wildlife Fund.
The full text of the legislation can be viewed here.