Press Release | July 29, 2022

SELC statement on NOAA’s proposed modifications to right whale speed rule

WASHINGTON — Today NOAA Fisheries announced proposed changes to expand protections for North Atlantic right whales against death and injury resulting from vessel collisions.

The agency’s proposed improvements are a welcome, long-overdue step in reducing the likelihood of vessel strikes, one of two leading causes of death and serious injury for the species. With fewer than 340 remaining in the population, North Atlantic right whales are one of the most endangered large whale species in the world and are only found along the East Coast of the United States and Canada. The Southeast is the only place where they routinely give birth to and nurse their young. Addressing the threat of vessel strikes to right whales is a necessity if the species is to reverse its decline and eventually recover.  

In response, Sierra Weaver, Senior Attorney and leader of Southern Environmental Law Center’s Coast & Wetlands Program, issued the following statement: 

“The Southeast is home to the most vulnerable and valuable members of this population–mothers and their calves. There are fewer than 70 reproductive females left in the population. That’s why SELC has long advocated for policies that protect these animals that are so essential to the future of the species. We are glad that NOAA is taking important steps to better protect this critically endangered species that relies on our coast for its migratory route and throughout the calving season. We look forward to working with the agency to expeditiously finalize the rule.” 

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