We must ensure these vulnerable whales are safe in their ocean home.

Speak up for the wild world!

Urge Members of Congress to do the right thing for critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. If they block action that would reduce vessel strikes, the leading cause of mortality outside of fishing entanglements, the road to recovery for the North Atlantic right whale will be extremely difficult, potentially leading to the extinction of the species.

Photo: North Atlantic right whale

North Atlantic right whale
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Your Message
Oppose efforts to block NOAA. Sentient marine mammals depend on it.
Dear Member of Congress:

As your constituent and a supporter of the Wildlife Conservation Society, I am writing to urge you to oppose the many legislative efforts to block the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from publishing a final rule that would reduce vessel speeds in certain areas of the Atlantic Coast when North Atlantic right whales (NARW) are most likely to be present.

Fewer than 340 North Atlantic right whales remain along the East Coast of the United States and Canada, of which fewer than 70 are reproductive females. Scientists estimate that even one human-caused NARW death a year may be enough to doom the species’ chance of survival and recovery. NARW are incredibly vulnerable to vessel strikes because they swim slowly near the water’s surface, are dark, and lack a dorsal fin, making them very difficult to spot, even for the most experienced observers. Unless their primary causes of death—entanglements in fishing gear and vessel strikes—are quickly addressed, the species could be extinct within our children’s lifetime.

The existing vessel speed rule requires vessels 65 feet in length or greater to travel at 10 knots or less in specific areas and during specific times of the year. However, ship strikes remain a leading cause of mortality in these whales, including from strikes caused by vessels smaller than 65 feet and in areas that are not currently subject to the rule. NOAA is proposing to amend the current rule to cover broader geographic areas and times and to apply the rule to vessels 35 feet in length (about the size of a school bus) or greater. This expansion is based on evidence that smaller boats also strike and seriously injure and kill these whales.

It is important to note that the proposed rule would only apply to months between late fall and spring, when NARW commonly pass through the specified waters. The proposed rule tries to strike a balance between conservation and sustainable use of our waters: mariners can still use the waters for fishing, boating, or other activities—they would simply be required to slow down through certain areas. Also, an important exemption is included in the proposed rule to allow for higher speeds when the health and safety of those on the vessels are at risk.

Amendments have been included in several appropriations bills and standalone legislation has been introduced that would block further action on the revision of the vessel speed rule. I urge you to oppose these efforts. Congress already acted to delay court-ordered work by NOAA to reduce entanglement deaths of NARW. For it to also block action on the other leading cause of mortality in this species, specifically vessel strikes, would make the road to recovery for the North Atlantic right whale extremely difficult, potentially leading to the extinction of the species.


[First Name] [Last Name]

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