For years, the only attention the House Natural Resources Committee paid to wildlife was in its attempts to weaken federal protections for imperiled species. That changed today, when the Committee—driven by its new Democratic leadership—approved the SAVE Right Whales Act (H.R. 1568), bipartisan legislation to support the recovery of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.
The North Atlantic right whale is an iconic species that connects all Americans living along the East Coast, migrating through the waters of every one of our Atlantic coastal states each year. Yet the right whales’ status is increasingly grim. Fewer than 420 of these majestic whales remain on earth; without action to end deaths and serious injuries from incidental entanglement in fishing gear and vessel collisions, the species may be effectively extinct within our lifetime.
NRDC has been at the forefront of the fight to save North Atlantic right whales and to persuade decision-makers in Congress of the need for strong, immediate action to recover the species—including passing the SAVE Right Whales Act into law. This bill would support right whale recovery by providing ten years of sustained federal funding for collaborative projects between states, NGOs, and the fishing and shipping industries to reduce the impact of their activities on the species.
By including this bill in its first markup of the year, the House Natural Resources Committee recognizes the urgency of the right whale extinction crisis and the need for congressional action to effectively address it. Now that the bill has passed this key legislative hurdle, we are hopeful that it will soon be taken up on the House floor. The sooner Congress enacts this legislation, the better our chance of ensuring right whales survive and rebound for the continued benefit of our ocean ecosystems, and for future generations to enjoy.