AWI-Endorsed Legislation Advanced by House Committee to Aid North Atlantic Right Whale Recovery

Photo from Flickr by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission NOAA
Photo from Flickr by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission NOAA

Washington, DC—The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) commends the US House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee for approving H.R. 1568, the SAVE Right Whales Act during their first committee markup of the 116th Congress. H.R. 1568 now awaits a floor vote by the full chamber of the House of Representatives.

The bipartisan SAVE Right Whales Act, introduced in March, would provide federal funding opportunities for collaborative efforts between states, nongovernmental organizations and industry leaders to create and implement much-needed conservation efforts to protect the North Atlantic right whale.

The North Atlantic right whale traverses the waters of all 14 Atlantic coastal states and is a beloved species—especially in Massachusetts and Georgia, where it is recognized as the state marine mammal. The species nevertheless is in serious jeopardy of extinction. Currently listed as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act, there are fewer than 420 North Atlantic right whales left. Their greatest threats are fishing gear entanglements and vessel strikes. From 1970 to 2009, 80 percent of 122 known right whale deaths were caused by man-made objects or human activities.

“H.R. 1568, the SAVE Right Whales Act, provides vital federal funding to support the recovery of an endangered icon of the East Coast. H.R. 1568 would allow for new and innovative research projects aimed at mitigating the greatest threats to right whales – entanglements in fishing gear and vessel collisions,” said Cathy Liss, AWI president. “We are thankful to Chairman Grijalva for advancing H.R. 1568 through the House Natural Resources Committee today and hope to see House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer arrange for a full vote on the bill by the entire House of Representatives soon,” continued Liss.

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