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Protecting Eastern North Pacific Gray Whales

A comment letter was submitted today to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in support of a positive 60-day finding for the petition filed by the California Gray Whale Coalition to recognize the eastern north pacific gray whale population is depleted and deserves a new status review. 

Global populations of threatened and endangered sea turtles face many of the same threats that these whales, their prey, and their habitat encounter from industrial fishing, climate change, and ocean pollution. These threats should be further investigated and reduced to support recovery of all sensitive marine life.

The eastern north pacific gray whale population that regularly migrates along the coast of California, Oregon and Washington on its way between feeding grounds off of Alaska and breeding areas offshore of Mexico is below its optimum sustainable population level and should be listed as “depleted” for Marine Mammal Protection Act regulation. The most recent scientific estimate of the Gray Whale population published by Laake et al. (2009) was 19,126 individual whales in 2006/07, which is below the optimum sustainable population (i.e. below 60% of K where K is 60,000 to 70,000) of approximately 36,000 to 42,000 individuals and is by definition depleted.