Senate Unites to SAVE North Atlantic Right Whales

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation is scheduled to hold a markup this Wednesday on a bipartisan bill, the Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered (SAVE) Right Whales Act (S. 2453). Led by Senators Booker (D-NJ), Isakson (R-GA)., and Carper (D-DE), S. 2453 would support the recovery of the iconic and critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.

Right whale mother and calf, sighted 20 nautical miles off Jacksonville Beach, Florida on February 7, 2019.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Senate action on this bill comes at a pivotal point in the fight to save the North Atlantic right whale from extinction; 2 percent of the world’s right whales have died in just the past few months. No more than 400 North Atlantic right whales remain on Earth, and less than a quarter of them are breeding females. 30 right whales have been found dead in the last two years, largely because they have become entangled in fishing gear or struck by shipping vessels. Without urgent action, this iconic species could be effectively extinct within the coming decades.

If the SAVE Right Whales Act becomes law, it would establish a new grant program to fund projects between states, members of the fishing and shipping industries, and nongovernmental organizations to reduce the impacts of human activities on right whales. Specifically, it would authorize $5 million annually over 10 years in new funding to develop, test and implement innovative technologies and other strategies to reduce the two main causes of North Atlantic right whale deaths: entanglement with fishing gear and vessel collisions.

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. 

You can help take action by calling on your Senators to take up and pass the SAVE Right whales Act on the Senate floor this year. If your Senator is already leading on this issue, you can show your appreciation by sending a quick note of thanks.

You can find contact information for your two Senators’ offices, here.

About the Authors

Nora Apter

Deputy Director, Federal Affairs, Center for Policy Advocacy

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