Washington, DC

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations’ Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee released its appropriations bill for the 2024-25 fiscal year. The bill includes deeply harmful provisions that would block NOAA Fisheries from enforcing any amendments to a 2008 vessel speed rule protecting endangered North Atlantic right whales and from funding efforts to protect endangered Rice’s whale in the Gulf of Mexico.

Defenders of Wildlife senior government relations representative Dan Moss released the following statement in response to the bill:

“These provisions in the CJS appropriations bill are the latest in a sustained series of legislative attacks against conservation measures to protect two of the most critically endangered whale species on the planet.  

“There are approximately 360 surviving North Atlantic right whales and fewer than 100 Rice’s whales — likely closer to 50. These provisions would prevent NOAA Fisheries from taking further action to reduce vessel strikes in the Atlantic, an existential threat to right whales. They would also prevent the agency from finalizing a proposed critical habitat designation for the Rice’s whale and from putting measures into place to protect this species from vessel strikes in the Gulf.

“These provisions brazenly ignore science in favor of congressional interference in the regulatory process, undermining both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.  They place both of these magnificent species at heightened risk of extinction. As the appropriations process moves forward, we urge the full Committee, and the House of Representatives, to strip these damaging provisions from the CJS bill.”  

For over 75 years, Defenders of Wildlife has remained dedicated to protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife for generations to come. To learn more, please visit https://defenders.org/newsroom or follow us on X @Defenders.


Media Contact

Senior Government Relations Representative
Communications Specialist
(202) 772-0243



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