“In the past two years alone, North Atlantic right whales have experienced record-breaking losses from fishing gear entanglements and ship strikes. Thank you to Representatives Seth Moulton and John Rutherford for spearheading legislation to provide funding for the innovation and collaboration that these desperately imperiled whales need to survive and recover. The conservation actions facilitated by this legislation could literally make the difference between life and death for these whales."
Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife.
04:15 PM

For Immediate Release

House Introduces the SAVE Right Whales Act

Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA) and John Rutherford (R-FL) introduced the Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered (SAVE) Right Whales Act, legislation that would support the recovery of the critically imperiled North Atlantic right whale. The Act would establish a new grant program to fund projects between states, nongovernmental organizations and members of the fishing and shipping industries to reduce the impacts of human activities on right whales. It would authorize $5 million annually from 2019-2029 in new funding to develop, test, and implement innovative technologies and other strategies to reduce entanglement with fishing gear and vessel collisions.

Entanglements are the most significant threat to the whale’s survival, causing 85 percent of diagnosable right whale deaths from 2010–2015. A staggering 83 percent of the right whale population bears entanglement scars. Fishing gear entanglements may cause immediate drowning, life-threatening injuries, infections and slow starvation. Fishing gear entanglements and ship strikes reduce a right whale’s life expectancy from 70 years or more to only 30–40 years.

There are no more than 420 North Atlantic right whales remaining in the world. This past year was one of the worst years on record for the species, with 18 confirmed deaths between 2017 and 2018.

Quotes from Conservation Groups:

“Reducing the probability of ship strikes and entanglements is essential to secure a future for the North Atlantic right whale,” said Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute. “That is why we are thankful to Representatives Moulton and Rutherford for introducing the SAVE Right Whales Act. By providing funding opportunities for innovative, collaborative efforts to protect right whales from their greatest threats—fishing gear entanglements and vessel collisions—this legislation serves to protect one of the most iconic species on the East Coast.”

“North Atlantic right whales are in dire need of our help,” said Dr. Priscilla Brooks, vice president and director of ocean conservation at Conservation Law Foundation. “This magnificent species is on the brink of extinction. We need to develop long-term solutions to protect right whales as soon as possible, and this bill is a meaningful step forward. We’re thankful for Representative Moulton’s leadership on this critically important issue.”

“Time is running out to protect the North Atlantic right whale, and the American people are not going to let this this iconic species permanently disappear from our oceans. The SAVE Act is a bipartisan agreement that extinction is not an option. We applaud Representatives Moulton and Rutherford for moving us swiftly in the right direction, and we hope the other members of Congress will join them in this urgent work,” said Martin Hayden, vice president of policy and legislation at Earthjustice.

“North Atlantic right whales are among the most critically endangered animals on the planet today, with only hundreds left in the wild. Congress needs to move quickly and pass the SAVE Act, to that we can prevent yet another majestic species from going extinct.” – Kitty Block, president and CEO, The Humane Society of the United States

“We don’t have a minute to waste: North Atlantic right whales could become extinct within our lifetimes. Research is urgently needed to understand and alleviate the threats the whales encounter along their East Coast migratory route. I applaud Representatives Moulton and Rutherford for recognizing this crisis and introducing the SAVE Right Whales Act.” – Sara Amundson, president, Humane Society Legislative Fund

“The North Atlantic right whale is in crisis. With a population of fewer than 415, now more than ever, the re-introduction of the SAVE Right Whales Act is imperative to enabling scientists, conservationists, and industry to work together to save this iconic animal from fishing gear entanglements and fatal ship strikes. The time to SAVE the right whale from extinction is now.” – CT Harry, marine campaigner, IFAW

“We are at a pivotal point in the fight to save the North Atlantic right whale from extinction,” said Nora Apter, legislative advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This bipartisan legislation is critical to support the recovery of this iconic species before it’s too late. Leaders in Congress must take immediate action by taking up and passing the SAVE Right Whales Act on the House floor this year.”

“Research underscores the critical role North Atlantic right whales play in the ecosystem by supplying nutrients to phytoplankton which produces most of the world’s oxygen, are the base on which fish stocks depend, and serve as a major pathway for carbon sequestration. Saving right whales is not a choice, it's a necessity,” said Regina Asmutis-Silvia, executive director, Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

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 Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.