Carper, Booker, Isakson Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Establish Right Whale Conservation Grant Program

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) reintroduced a bill to protect the North Atlantic right whale, one of the most endangered species of whales. The Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered (SAVE) Right Whales Act establishes a grant program to promote collaboration between states, nongovernmental organizations, and members of the fishing and shipping industries to reduce human impacts on right whales and promote the recovery of the population. Representatives Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and John Rutherford (R-Fla.) are leading a companion measure in the House of Representatives.

For years, overexploitation by the whaling industry caused North Atlantic right whale numbers to plummet, leading to their protection as an endangered species in 1970. Fishing and shipping industries took major steps to protect the right whale, yet entanglement in fishing gear and strikes from ships have kept the North Atlantic right whale population from recovering. Approximately 400 whales remain today.

“These animals that grace Delaware’s shorelines are suffering due to both human interactions and a climate change crisis that is inflicting serious damage to marine life throughout the world,” said Senator Carper. “With their numbers dwindling at alarming rates, there is no time to waste in making sure North Atlantic right whales are able to thrive and continue contributing to marine ecosystems along the East Coast.  Delaware’s tourism industry relies on healthy, vibrant oceans. The grants funded in this bill will help right whales flourish and support economic growth in the First State. I’m excited to join Senator Booker and Senator Isakson on this much-needed measure.”

“The North Atlantic right whale plays a key role in balancing our ocean ecosystem, and it is critical that we take immediate action to protect this endangered species,” said Senator Booker. “We need to provide stakeholders and experts with the necessary resources to develop solutions and keep the right whale from going extinct in our lifetimes.”

“The North Atlantic right whale was named the official Georgia state marine mammal when I served as minority leader in the Georgia State House, and I am proud that my state’s coast is still home to one of the few known calving grounds for this magnificent animal,” said Senator Booker. “I’m glad to introduce the Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered Right Whales Act to help learn about how we can better protect this important beast whose numbers continue to dwindle.”

Cooperation between the government, the fishing and shipping industries, and nongovernmental organizations is vital to protect the right whale, and congressional action could help prevent the right whale’s extinction.

The following organizations have endorsed the SAVE Right Whales Act:

  • Animal Welfare Institute
  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums
  • Born Free USA
  • Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance
  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • Cetacean Society International
  • Conservation Law Foundation
  • Defenders of Wildlife
  • Earth Law Center
  • Earthjustice
  • Endangered Species Coalition
  • Environment America
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Humane Society Legislative Fund
  • International Fund for Animal Welfare
  • International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute
  • Marine Mammal Alliance Nantucket
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • New England Aquarium
  • Ocean Conservation Research
  • Oceana
  • Sanctuary Education Advisory Specialists (SEAS LLC)
  • Save Animals Facing Extinction
  • Save the Manatee
  • SeaWorld Parks
  • Seven Circles Foundation
  • Sierra Club
  • The Humane Society of the United States
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Whale and Dolphin Conservation
  • Women Working for Oceans
  • World Wildlife Fund