AWI Statement on House Bill to Protect North Atlantic Right Whale

Photo from Flickr by FWC NOAA
Photo from Flickr by FWC NOAA

Washington, DC—The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) applauds Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA) and John Rutherford (R-FL) for introducing the bipartisan Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered (SAVE) Right Whales Act. This legislation would provide sustained funding opportunities through 2029 for collaborative efforts between states, nongovernmental organizations and industry leaders to enact 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. Unfortunately, it is also one of the world's most imperiled large whales. As few as 420 right whales remain on Earth; of those, fewer than 100 are reproductively active females. At least 20 North Atlantic right whales died in 2017 and 2018.

The greatest threats to the survival of right whales are fishing gear entanglements and vessel strikes. Right whales are extremely vulnerable to being caught in the vertical buoy lines used in lobster and crab trapping gear. Entanglement can lead to drowning, reduced mobility and, in some cases, a long, painful death from starvation. Right whales also collide with ships, causing deaths or serious injuries, such as blunt force trauma, propeller cuts and broken bones.

“Reducing the probability of ship strikes and entanglements is essential to securing a future for the North Atlantic right whale,” said Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute. “That is why we are thankful to Representatives Moulton and Rutherford for introducing the SAVE Right Whales Act. By providing funding opportunities for innovative, collaborative efforts to protect right whales from their greatest threats—fishing gear entanglements and vessel collisions—this legislation serves to protect one of the most iconic species on the East Coast.”


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