WDC was in Canada this week for the Ropeless and North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium meetings where researchers, fishermen, gear manufacturers, and policy makers gathered to discuss the progress of on-demand fishing and updates on the distribution and health of critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.
Each year, the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium releases a “report card” on the status of North Atlantic right whales, which includes a population estimate. The 2021 report card population estimate was 340, a continuation of the steep decline since 2010. According to the 2023 report card, the population decline has stabilized with an estimate of 356 alive.
"This is huge news" said Regina Asmutis-Silvia, WDC executive director. She added, "While we can't yet say the population is growing, we can celebrate that all of the work being done to protect these whales is making a difference. There is hope."
For the past two decades, WDC has been working to reduce accidental entanglements and vessel strikes to right whales, their two biggest threats. A recent emergency rulemaking petition from WDC and its partners urged NOAA Fisheries to set speed limits for additional vessels and expand the areas where current speed limits apply. The petition requests that the rule be released by Nov. 15, the start of the 2024 calving season. In addition, WDC is working with fishermen to test on-demand fishing gear that will significantly reduce the chances of whales becoming entangled.
We are grateful to all who have supported our work and the difference our supporters are making in preventing the extinction of this critically endangered species.