U.S. refuses calls for immediate protection of North Atlantic right whales

U.S. refuses calls for immediate protection of North Atlantic right whales

The U.S. government has denied two petitions to immediately protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales during the species’ calving season, raising concerns that this population of whales will continue to decline without intervention. There are currently about 340 of these whales left, making them one of the most threatened cetaceans in the world. The two petitions — one filed by a consortium of NGOs, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), and the other by the NGO Oceana — asked the U.S. government to provide emergency protection for North Atlantic whales (Eubalaena glacialis). They called for three measures aimed to reduce vessel collision, a leading cause of death for these animals. The proposed rules included establishing speed limits for ships in designated coastal zones between North Carolina and Florida during the calving season; requiring speed reductions outside of these zones when a single whale or a mother-and-calf pair is spotted; and making such rules applicable for vessels 35 feet (about 11 meters) in length and longer. There are already some seasonal speed zones on the southeast U.S. coast, but experts say they’re not big enough to encompass the species’ entire range, especially as climate change alters the whales’ movements. Additionally, vessels don’t need to slow down outside these zones unless in the presence of three individual whales, and the current rules only apply to vessels larger than 65 feet, or about 20 meters. However, as experts point out, smaller…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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