IFAW Applauds the Introduction of the SAVE Right Whales Act of 2019, Calling for Urgent Action by Lawmakers

Press Releases | March 7 2019

Washington, DC – Today, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) applauds the reintroduction of the Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered (SAVE) Right Whales Act of 2019. Championed by Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Bill Keating (D-MA), John Rutherford (R-FL), and Bill Posey (R-FL) this bipartisan legislation supports the immediate conservation and recovery of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.

“The North Atlantic right whale will be extinct in our lifetime if we don’t take immediate action,” said Beth Allgood, US Country Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “We commend the ocean champions who reintroduced the SAVE Right Whales Act and who remain committed to moving this species from its current path of extinction to a path of recovery. We urge Congress to swiftly pass this bill, which will foster the innovation necessary to preserve this iconic species. Time is of the essence.”

Fundamentally, the legislation would fund new scientific research to develop innovative solutions and technology in order to reduce the two leading causes of right whale mortality—commercial fishing gear entanglement and collisions with shipping vessels. Authorizing $5 million per year from 2019-2029, the SAVE Right Whales Act would establish a new grant program to support collaborative projects between governments, the fishing and shipping industries, and nongovernmental organizations to swiftly and effectively reduce these negative impacts of human activity on the right whale population.

We humans have nearly killed every right whale in existence through our direct and indirect actions over the past two centuries.” Representative Seth Moulton (MA-06) said. "Now we have a choice: we can be the generation that brings them back, or the generation that allows their extinction. Let’s not miss this unique moment. Passing the SAVE Right Whales Act is the first of many steps that Congress should take to help restore the right whale population.”

Since 1970, the North Atlantic right whale has been listed as ‘endangered’ under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). With a population most recently estimated at fewer than 420 individuals, and birth rates declining precipitously, the loss of even one individual represents a major blow to the recovery of the species as a whole.

According to CT Harry, Marine Campaigner for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, “This is one of the most pressing conservation challenges of our time. If human activity has brought the right whale to this critical tipping point, then human proactivity, collaboration, and innovation can save it.”

To read the full bill, please click here.

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