Since 2017, the alarming number of North Atlantic right whale deaths from entanglements in fishing gear and vessel strikes has been deemed an “unusual mortality event” under the Marine Mammal Protection Act by NOAA. In October 2020, new population estimates determined that about 360 right whales remain, only 70 of whom are reproductive-aged females. In 2021, a newborn was fatally struck by a small vessel off the coast of Florida. Weeks later, a severely entangled adult succumbed to his injuries and was found dead off the coast of South Carolina.
AWI is advocating increased funding in the Commerce appropriations bill for North Atlantic right whales. Last year, $5 million was allocated toward conservation efforts, including the development of innovative, whale-safe gear. AWI and coalition partners, in coordination with Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA), Bill Keating (D-MA), and 51 other House members, urged the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies to increase this funding. Thankfully, the committee did so, providing almost $17 million dollars for right whale research, conservation, and monitoring.