Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Endangered Whales Need Immediate Action

Defenders of Wildlife

Conservation and animal protection groups filed a lawsuit Oct. 31 asking a federal court in Massachusetts to hold the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) accountable for continuing to allow four federal fisheries to injure and kill endangered whales, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.

Each year, endangered whales become entangled in commercial fishing gear. Entanglement makes it harder for them to swim, feed and reproduce and it can cause a chronic infection or even drowning.

Already, 2011 has seen the death of two right whales from entanglement, as well as at least seven additional new entanglement reports for right whales. Since June alone, eight endangered humpback whales have been reported with first time entanglements.

“Every single right whale counts when it comes to ensuring the species’ survival, but the fisheries service continues to place whales at risk of injury and death,” said Sharon Young, marine issues field director for The Humane Society of the U.S. “Safeguarding the right whale from entanglements in fishing gear is a vital step towards moving this species out of the emergency room and onto the path to recovery.”

“The fisheries service is well aware that North Atlantic right whales need better protections, yet it is allowing these fisheries to continue to operate without them,” said Sierra Weaver, attorney for Defenders of Wildlife. “The fisheries service needs to take immediate action to put protections in place to make the fisheries safer. If they don’t act now, we will see the extinction of the right whale in our lifetime.”

“In an increasingly busy ocean, the survival and recovery of the North Atlantic right whale depends on protecting each individual from entanglement-related injuries and deaths,” said Regina Asmutis-Silvia, senior biologist for Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

Background:

  • The North Atlantic right whale is one of the world’s most endangered large whales, with an estimated population of less than 400 individuals. In fact, the NMFS has previously stated that the “loss of even a single individual may contribute to the extinction of the species.”

  • NMFS has cited entanglements in commercial fishing gear as one of the most significant threats to the right whale’s survival and recovery. Yet, almost every year since 2002, at least one entangled right whale has been found dead or so gravely injured that death is deemed likely.

  • In addition to right whales, fishing gear used by the American lobster, northeast multispecies, monkfish and spiny dogfish fisheries continues to injure and kill endangered humpback, fin and sei whales.

  • The lawsuit was filed by Defenders of Wildlife, the Humane Society of the U.S. and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society in the federal district court for Massachusetts.

See what Defenders of Wildlife is doing to make waters safer for critically endangered right whale by clicking here.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The current rate of CO2 emissions is a major event in the recorded history of Earth. EPA

By Andrew Glikson

At several points in the history of our planet, increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have caused extreme global warming, prompting the majority of species on Earth to die out.

Read More Show Less
The "Earthrise" photograph that inspired the first Earth Day. NASA / Bill Anders

For EcoWatchers, April usually means one thing: Earth Day. But how do you celebrate the environment while staying home to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus?

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Animal rights activists try to save dogs at a free market ahead of the Yulin Dog Eating Festival in Yulin city, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on June 21, 2014. Jie Zhao / Corbis via Getty Images

The Chinese city of Shenzhen announced Thursday that it would ban the eating of dogs and cats in the wake of the coronavirus, which is believed to have stemmed from the wildlife trade, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
The Great Barrier Reef, where record-high sea temperatures in February caused its most widespread coral bleaching event. JAYNE JENKINS / CORAL REEF IMAGE BANK

Tropical coral reefs are at a critical tipping point, and we've pushed them there, scientists say. Climate change may now cause previously rare, devastating coral bleaching events to occur in tropical coral reefs around the globe on a 'near-annual' basis, reported The Guardian.

Read More Show Less
The first peer-reviewed research into a promising coronavirus vaccine was published Thursday. Javier Zayas Photography / Moment / Getty Images

The world has reached a grim milestone with the number of confirmed coronavirus cases reported by the Johns Hopkins University tracker passing one million.

Read More Show Less