Critically endangered whales get $1.5 million in protection

The U.S. is focusing on the conservation of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. On July 30,…
endangered right whales

The U.S. is focusing on the conservation of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.

On July 30, the United States passed an amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science funding bill for the 2021 fiscal year. This amendment will mean an additional $1.5 million will go to protecting the North Atlantic right whale.

Specifically, the new funds will aid research and monitoring efforts. As well, they will mean the exploration, production, and testing of more anti-entanglement strategies. An example of anti-entanglement equipment is ropeless fishing gear.

When whales are entangled, the equipment can kill or injure them. Injured whales may not be able to develop enough fat stores. For female whales, this can mean having calves is more difficult.

Collisions with ships are also particularly threatening to female right whales and their calves:

Out of 10 right whale calves born in the 2019-20 calving season, two have already been killed by vessel strikes and their mothers have not been resighted since.

World Animal News

With these hazards, the North Atlantic right whale’s numbers declined enough to shift the species from the Endangered designation to the Critically Endangered designation. Today, there are just 95 breeding-age female whales, and under 400 whales in total.

The main threat to the North Atlantic right whale was once whalers in Europe and New England. Now, these other human activities are harming the animals. In addition to vessel strikes and entanglements, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species says that biological resource use and pollution are concerns.

Now, in the United States, the total funding for the species’ protection is $6.5 million. This is good news, but ideally, efforts continue. Jane Davenport, a senior staff attorney with Defenders of Wildlife, spoke to the actions that the United States still needs to take:

We are grateful that representatives on both sides of the aisle and from across our nation recognize the North Atlantic right whale’s dire situation and are responding with action. However, funding is only half the battle. We urge Congress to pass the SAVE Right Whales Act, allowing the government, fishing and shipping industries, and nongovernmental organizations to organize and protect the right whale from extinction.

Jane Davenport

Article source: World Animal News

Featured image source: World Animal News

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