Congress Introduces Bill to Protect Right Whales
The SAVE Right Whales Act comes at a pivotal point in the fight to save the right whale from extinction. Right whales have been experiencing a precipitous decline since 2010 and fewer than 340 whales now remain.
Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) along with Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) today introduced the “Right Whale Coexistence Act” to support the recovery of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.
The bill, formerly known as the SAVE Right Whales Act, comes at a pivotal point in the fight to save the right whale from extinction. Right whales have been experiencing a precipitous decline since 2010 and fewer than 340 whales now remain. Fifty whales including three calves are known to have been killed or seriously injured since 2017, and the true number of deaths may be three times higher.
Without immediate and concerted conservation action to address the two major causes of decline—entanglement in fishing gear and vessel strikes—this iconic species could be effectively extinct within decades.
If the Right Whale Coexistence Act becomes law, it would authorize $15 million annually from 2022-2032 in new funding to develop, test, and implement innovative technologies and other strategies to reduce the risk of entanglement in fishing gear and vessel strikes.
State and tribal agencies, research institutions, nonprofit organizations, vessel owners and operators, members of maritime industries like fishing, shipping, and boating, and any other entity with the required expertise for North Atlantic right whale conservation may apply for grants.
Importantly, the bill prioritizes projects that have the greatest likelihood of reducing impacts from entanglements and vessel collisions, while also prioritizing projects that involve private sector stakeholders and that will provide economic benefits to small businesses in the United States. It also requires periodic reports to Congress on the results and effectiveness of the program.
The Right Whale Coexistence Act is an exciting step forward but there is still a long road ahead to get it passed into law, and we'll be fighting for this bill and these incredible animals the whole way.