To Protect Right Whales NOAA Should Withdraw Proposed Rule

Comment letter calls for faster and more effective action to save critically endangered species

NOAA Should Withdraw Proposed Rule for Right Whales

On March 1, The Pew Charitable Trusts submitted comments on a proposed rule from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales from becoming entangled in fishing gear. In its letter, Pew outlined how the rule as proposed fails to satisfy the conditions of the Endangered Species Act and other governance, which require that protections reduce serious injury and deaths enough to prevent extinction. Therefore, Pew recommends that the agency withdraw the proposed rule and, while developing its replacement, prohibit fishing gear that uses vertical lines in certain high-risk areas during the times of year when right whales are likely to be present.

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Right Whales Urgently Need Protection From Fishing Gear

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North Atlantic right whales, which migrate along the East Coast from Canada to Florida, were heavily hunted by commercial whalers into the early 20th century. In the decades after whaling ceased, the population slowly but steadily increased, but now that trend has reversed.