Turtle Island and conservation groups submitted comments on the petition by the state of Alaska to de-list Central North Pacific Humpbacks from the Endangered Species Act, and is working to protect Humpback whales.
On behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Turtle Island Restoration Network and Defenders of Wildlife, we hereby submit the following comments on the status review that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) initiated in response to a petition to designate the Central North Pacific humpback whale population as a distinct population segment (DPS) and delist that DPS under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 79 Fed. Reg. 36,281 (June 26, 2014). Humpback whales are currently protected as endangered throughout their range. Increasing numbers of Central North Pacific humpback whales hold promise for recovery and highlight the success of the ESA. But delisting a DPS of humpback whales at this time would be premature for a number of reasons. First, the ESA does not allow NMFS to designate a DPS in order to delist that population. Second, humpback whales continue to face many threats, including the destruction or modification of their habitat through ocean acidification and climate change, and other natural or manmade factors such as noise pollution, entanglement in fishing gear and deadly collisions with boats. Finally, even if there is a distinct breeding stock of Central North Pacific humpback whales, these whales mix with, and are not easily distinguishable from, other humpback stocks that currently face more severe threats.
Read our full comments here.