Claiming Success Too Soon Could Result in Serious Failure

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service has claimed the endangered species act (ESA) a success for humpback whales worldwide; I too agree that the ESA has provided humpbacks the protection they needed after nearly being decimated by commercial whaling, but the story isn't all that simple. A delisting at this time would be premature and humpback whales are now facing a whole new set of threats that need to be evaluated. NOAA has recognized that it is extremely difficult to estimate and we do not have specific population numbers of humpback whales pre-commercial whaling. So how is it that we are able to claim such a "success" and potentially de-list the humpback whale if recovery goals were initially to increase populations to 60% of that population number?

Humpback whales may not have an overwhelming threat of commercial whaling as they did when first listed under the ESA, but these whales are now being pressured by threats such as entanglements in fishing gear, climate change, ocean acidification (which could eventually wipe out all of their prey), ocean noise pollution, and vessel strikes.

Starting in 2012, Whale and Dolphin Conservation developed a study to specifically look at risk associated with vessel strikes in the Gulf of Maine humpback whale population.  In this study we analyzed over 210,000 images of humpback whales that were collected between 2004 and 2013.

 This study found that out of the total 623 humpback individuals that were photographed, 15% of the whales had injuries consistent with a vessel strike. Even more alarming for the future of this population, the study showed with fresh/recent injuries, calves were most likely (57%) to be impacted by vessel strikes. In addition to the 15% of humpback individuals we are photographing injured with vessel strike wounds, another study on Gulf of Maine humpback whales found that vessel strike mortality rates are also 15%. 

With over 400 commercial fishing vessels and countless recreational boaters operating in the same waters these humpback whales are coming to feed, vessel strikes are causing injury, mortality, and affecting the recovery for Gulf of Maine humpback whales. 

Management measures have been implemented to reduce mortality and serious injury resulting from vessel strikes and entanglements for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale; these are potentially the same fishing gear and vessels that are affecting the recovery of the North Atlantic humpback whales. Scientists and law makers are now racing against the clock and we are all hoping it is not too late to save the North Atlantic right whale. Let's not make the same mistake with humpback whales. 

The science and research is available showing the threats these humpback whales are facing and how they are affecting their population; as the ESA requires, determinations for listing should be based on the best scientific information available. Side with science, let your voice be heard and please sign our petition to keep North Atlantic humpback whales protected.

Please also submit your formal comments to the NMFS proposed rule.

Comments

Please, keep protectie the whales!

De-list the HUMPBACKS. Spiny Dogfish used to be on the Endangered species list, now they aren't. I don't remember any public hearings or public outcry to keep them on the Endangered species list. Probably because no one in the environmental world is making $$$ off of their backs like the Humpbacks and Right whales. If the HUMPBACKS are DE-LISTED they will still be protected under the MMPA (marine mammal protection act). It won't be open season on these whales like what is being alluded too through all of the tugging on heart strings. I personally love whales, I see them often in my line of work. I don't want to hurt or kill any whale or turtle or any other marine mammal. The time has come to DE-LIST the HUMPBACKS they are doing well and if they should start to not do well that is what the Endangered species list is for and they can be put back on it. Stop the hype and de-list the HUMPBACKS.

De-list the HUMPBACKS. Spiny Dogfish used to be on the Endangered species list, now they aren't. I don't remember any public hearings or public outcry to keep them on the Endangered species list. Probably because no one in the environmental world is making $$$ off of their backs like the Humpbacks and Right whales. If the HUMPBACKS are DE-LISTED they will still be protected under the MMPA (marine mammal protection act). It won't be open season on these whales like what is being alluded too through all of the tugging on heart strings. I personally love whales, I see them often in my line of work. I don't want to hurt or kill any whale or turtle or any other marine mammal. The time has come to DE-LIST the HUMPBACKS they are doing well and if they should start to not do well that is what the Endangered species list is for and they can be put back on it. Stop the hype and de-list the HUMPBACKS.

De-list the HUMPBACKS. Spiny Dogfish used to be on the Endangered species list, now they aren't. I don't remember any public hearings or public outcry to keep them on the Endangered species list. Probably because no one in the environmental world is making $$$ off of their backs like the Humpbacks and Right whales. If the HUMPBACKS are DE-LISTED they will still be protected under the MMPA (marine mammal protection act). It won't be open season on these whales like what is being alluded too through all of the tugging on heart strings. I personally love whales, I see them often in my line of work. I don't want to hurt or kill any whale or turtle or any other marine mammal. The time has come to DE-LIST the HUMPBACKS they are doing well and if they should start to not do well that is what the Endangered species list is for and they can be put back on it. Stop the hype and de-list the HUMPBACKS.

De-list the HUMPBACKS. Spiny Dogfish used to be on the Endangered species list, now they aren't. I don't remember any public hearings or public outcry to keep them on the Endangered species list. Probably because no one in the environmental world is making $$$ off of their backs like the Humpbacks and Right whales. If the HUMPBACKS are DE-LISTED they will still be protected under the MMPA (marine mammal protection act). It won't be open season on these whales like what is being alluded too through all of the tugging on heart strings. I personally love whales, I see them often in my line of work. I don't want to hurt or kill any whale or turtle or any other marine mammal. The time has come to DE-LIST the HUMPBACKS they are doing well and if they should start to not do well that is what the Endangered species list is for and they can be put back on it. Stop the hype and de-list the HUMPBACKS.

Why have a list if you dont follow the criteria. De-list.

Everyday i see a new video or news item of a nhyumback being entangled in fishing gear - and those are only the ones who are discovered! If they are de-listed they may not be hunted, but who will go to the trouble of protecting them from fishing gear, or go out of their way not to strike one with a propeller. Did you not read the above article?
Saying humpbacks have recovered is like an obese smoker saying he's healthy just because he hasn't been diagnosed with cancer yet. Do you want to be healthy ot barely survive? None of us can be healthy without a healthy planet. Protect these ancient creatures as much and as long as possible.