07:07 PM

For Immediate Release

SAVE Right Whales Act Passes Out of Committee

Today, the House Natural Resources Committee marked up and passed the Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered (SAVE) Right Whales Act out of committee. The legislation would support the survival and recovery of the critically imperiled North Atlantic right whale. The Act would establish a new grant program to fund cooperative research projects by states, research scientists, nongovernmental organizations and members of the fishing and shipping industries to reduce the impacts of human activities on the species. It would authorize $5 million in new funding annually from 2019-2029 to develop, test, and implement innovative technologies and other strategies to reduce entanglements with fishing gear and vessel collisions.  

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

We are encouraged that the House has acted on legislation to protect North Atlantic right whales from fishing gear entanglements and ship strikes. The conservation actions made possible by this legislation could literally make the difference between life and death for these whales. Now is the time for the Senate to act to ensure that North Atlantic right whales don’t go extinct on our watch.” 


  • Entanglements are the most significant threat to the North Atlantic right 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. Chronic entanglements in heavy gear and line also impose tremendous energy demands and have resulted in reduced calving rates and longer calving intervals. 

  • 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 fewer than 420 North Atlantic right whales remaining. The species migrates along the eastern seaboard between the U.S. and Canada every year.  

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.