Save The Right Whale

Dear Editor,

For thousands of years, the North Atlantic right whale was a cornerstone of the Atlantic Ocean ecosystem. Sadly, this majestic species is almost extinct.

Today there are only about 340 of these whales left, of which only 70 are birthing females. Alarmingly, their population has declined by 30 percent in just the past decade, and nearly two-thirds of those deaths are a result of fishing gear entanglement.

You see, a lot of lobster and crab fishing these days is done by attaching long ropes to traps that sit on the bottom of the ocean, which can be pulled up by fishing boats. Unfortunately, these ropes are located right where the North Atlantic right whale migrates.

Rope entanglements dig into the flesh of a whale, eventually dragging them to their deaths. But this fishing technology is severely outdated. New rope-less technology allows fishers to acoustically signal their gear to the surface with a lift bag or stowed rope.

Protecting a critically endangered species like this is national law – and was being upheld in court – until Senator Susan Collins from Maine sunk in a special provision to a large must-pass bill in Congress. That provision seeks to quash federal agencies from enacting stronger protections for these whales for many years to come.

After being driven to near extinction twice, we have a chance to either save this species or cause its demise. Please contact your member of Congress and tell them you oppose blocking commonsense protections for North Atlantic right whales.

Jasmine Littleson