Fernandina Beach, FL -- Environment Florida and other environmental groups from up and down the East Coast, including Defenders of Wildlife and Whale & Dolphin Conservation, presented Rep. John Rutherford with an award Saturday at the Right Whale Festival in Fernandina Beach, Fla. The award highlighted Rutherford’s work to protect the highly-endangered North Atlantic Right Whale.
There are only about 400 North Atlantic right whales left. While scientists estimate that the population can only withstand about one right whale death per year, 10 North Atlantic right whales have died in the last year alone. Most of the deaths are caused by humans, the primary causes being collisions with boats and entanglements in fishing gear. The SAVE Right Whales Act, introduced by Rep. Rutherford and Rep. Seth Moulton, would devote $5 million per year over the next ten years to the development of ropeless fishing technology.
“Preventing the loss of the right whale species from our seas requires strong, immediate action,” said Steve Blackledge, senior director of Environment America’s Conservation program. “Hats off to Reps. Rutherford and Moulton for introducing the SAVE Right Whales Act -- an important step toward the type of problem-solving and innovation we need to keep the species alive.”
Right whales’ habitat extends through the waters off all 13 east coast states. They spend their winters off the coast of Florida, and migrate up the East Coast to the Gulf of Maine in the warmer months. Protecting these marine mammals is integral to maintaining the health of our marine ecosystems and coastal communities.