NOAA’s has posted a proposed revision for the status of humpback whales – which could negatively affect “our” population  of humpbacks off of New England. The public comment period ends tonight at midnight. Please take a few minutes and submit a comment to help keep humpbacks fully protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Here is the link: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0035-0001 where you can post your comments until midnight tonight. Thank you in advance for commenting on this very important issue.

Here is a draft comment you can use (feel free to use this, or use it as a template for your comments if you’d like to). Thanks to our friends at Whale and Dolphin Conservation for providing this.

Dear Ms. Nammack,

Humpback whales worldwide are currently listed as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA).  While some populations have shown signs of recovery, North Atlantic humpback whales struggle to recover from decades of whaling as they face unsustainable threats from entanglements in fishing gear, vessel strikes, energy development, ocean noise, and pollution. 

Your agency admits that “(t)here are insufficient data to reliably determine current population trends for humpback whales in the North Atlantic overall”  and also acknowledges that a minimum average of 25 Gulf of Maine humpback whales may die each year as a result of fishing gear entanglements. Your agency’s own data indicate that Gulf of Maine humpback whales are currently being seriously injured or killed by human impacts at a rate higher than the population can sustain to recover. 

Even some members of your own Biological Review Team considered that North Atlantic humpback whales who breed in the West Indies may be at a moderate or high risk of extinction due to “potentially high rates of entanglement and/or ship strikes in some parts of its range” as well as the multiple cases of mass die-off’s of humpback whales in the Gulf of Maine. 

Therefore, I do not support the removal of ESA protections from North Atlantic humpback whales who breed in the West Indies, a population that has not yet recovered from whaling and continues to seriously impacted by human induced threats.   North Atlantic humpback whales have not yet recovered and should remain fully protected under the U.S. ESA.

Sincerely,