Recovery plans for endangered whales

Northern right whale. Credit: NMFS Northern right whale. Credit: NMFS
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Following the Center for Biological Diversity’s notice of intent to sue, the National Marine Fisheries Service has announced that it has begun preparing a recovery plan for the endangered North Pacific right whale.

At the same time, the agency announced it would be updating its recovery plan for endangered blue whales.

The North Pacific right whale is thought to be the world’s most endangered large whale and the blue whale is also among the more endangered of the large whales.

“The Fisheries Service is finally throwing North Pacific right whales a lifeline,” said the Center’s Alaska director Rebecca Noblin. “With just a few dozen of these animals left in Alaska, there’s no question they need the full protection of the Endangered Species Act to have a chance of survival.”

Under the Endangered Species Act, the Fisheries Service is required to issue and implement a plan for the conservation and recovery of all ocean species listed by the Act. North Pacific right whales have been listed as ‘northern right whales’ since 1973 and since 2008 as a species in their own right, but have had no recovery plan. On 20 March the Center sent the Fisheries Service a formal notice of intent to sue the agency for failing to protect the whales.

“Recovery plans are crucial tools for saving species from extinction and recovering them to the point that they don’t need federal help anymore,” said Ms Noblin. “And species with these plans are far more likely to be recovering than species without them.”

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