Announcement comes same day entangled right whales spotted in Gulf of St. Lawrence

While we’re glad the government is paying attention and devoting additional resources to this crisis, we believe there is still room for more permanent protections to address the reality in the water. At this juncture, only bold, bilateral action by the U.S. and Canadian governments will save the North American right whale from extinction.

Jane Davenport, Senior Attorney at Defenders of Wildlife
Washington, DC

In the week following the documentation of three separate entangled North Atlantic right whales in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced several new measures to try to prevent additional deaths of this endangered species. The announcement comes after a particularly tragic month for the species, with six right whales—more than 1% of the population—killed in June. Several of these whales were killed by ship strikes, authorities confirmed. The three entangled whales will likely add to the death toll after rescue workers expressed doubt that they could free the animals.

Jane Davenport, senior attorney at Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement: 

“While we’re glad the government is paying attention and devoting additional resources to this crisis, we believe there is still room for more permanent protections to address the reality in the water. At this juncture, only bold, bilateral action by the U.S. and Canadian governments will save the North American right whale from extinction.”

The Canadian government announced several new actions last night, including expanding reduced speed zones and increased aerial surveillance, though the fly-overs will only last until July 15. While the government also heralded its previously-announced funding for marine mammal protection, no funds are earmarked for the right whale specifically.

With fewer than 400 North Atlantic right whales left in the wild, the fight to save the right whale has been a top priority for Defenders of Wildlife and other conservation groups. Last week, Defenders and several other groups sent a letter to the Canadian government including a list of recommendations to prevent future deaths, many of which were echoed by Canadian scientists in a recent government report. 

Defenders filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fishery Service last year for violating its legal obligation to protect the right whale.  

Defenders is also supportive of H.R. 1568, the SAVE Right Whales Act, which would provide support for right whale conservation programs and projects. 
 

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit defenders.org/newsroom and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.

Media Contact

Jake Bleich headshot
Jake Bleich
Communications Associate
jbleich@defenders.org
(202) 772-3208

News

Anchorage, AK

Court shuts down Interior’s second illegal land deal with King Cove Corp

A federal District Court decision released late yesterday resoundingly shut down the Interior Department’s second attempt at an illegal land exchange with the King Cove Corporation to make way for a road through vital protected wetlands in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.
SACRAMENTO

More than 12,000 Acres of Endangered Species Habitat Permanently Protected as ‘North Carrizo Ecological Reserve’ in Response to Defenders Settlement Agreement

The California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) voted in April to permanently protect nearly 20 square miles of land in eastern San Luis Obispo County as the North Carrizo Ecological Reserve.