July 9, 2019 (BOSTON, MA) – In response to the news of three entangled North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) issued the following statement.
“There is no more time for half measures or endless meetings and discussions,” said CLF Senior Attorney Erica Fuller. “Critically endangered right whales can recover, but we need to stop killing them now. Both the U.S. and Canadian governments must take additional action to protect this majestic species before it disappears from our oceans forever.”
Due to the excessive amount of rope and gear wrapped around their bodies, rescuers have expressed their concerns that these whales can be disentangled.
There are barely 400 North Atlantic right whales remaining, and at least six whales have already died this year. Following up on its June 26th interim action, the Canadian government took additional steps last night to protect right whales, but even these measures do not go far enough. While increased surveillance, expanded slow down zones, and potential fisheries closures are a start, these measures only work if surveillance is done in the right area at the right time in clear weather. To stop these needless deaths, permanent measures should be in place throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence until November 15th or adequate survey effort can show that whales have left the area for at least 15 days.
CLF has filed two lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to force federal regulators to comply with their legal responsibility to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.
CLF and several partners also sent a letter to Canadian officials last week calling for much greater protections for right whales.
CLF experts are available for comment.