NOAA says Right Whales are “desperately endangered”

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Okay “desperately endangered” is not their words, just my interpretation of them. NOAA has a major rulemaking in progress to reduce the speed of small ships in order to protect the North Atlantic Right Whales. NOAA’s description of the whale’s dire straits is given in carefully couched techno-legalize. Here is their arcane warning:

“NMFS has determined that the Potential Biological Removal (PBR) for the species—defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of individuals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population”—is 0.7 whales. This means that for the species to recover, the population cannot sustain, on average over the course of a year, the death or serious injury of a single individual due to human causes.”

So NOAA says we cannot afford to cause the loss of even one Right Whale a year. That is what I call desperately endangered.

Unpacking the acronyms, NMFS is the US National Marine Fisheries service, also known as NOAA Fisheries, which is “responsible for the management, conservation, and protection of living marine resources within about 200 miles of the U.S. coast”. Despite the name “fisheries” it is responsible for whales and sea turtles, etc. These are rather strangely named as “marine resources”.

MMPA is the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Its primary law is stated as follows:

“The Congress finds that—

(1) certain species and population stocks of marine mammals are, or may be, in danger of extinction or depletion as a result of man’s activities;

(2) such species and population stocks should not be permitted to diminish beyond the point at which they cease to be a significant functioning element in the ecosystem of which they are a part, and, consistent with this major objective, they should not be permitted to diminish below their optimum sustainable population.”

But the numerous proposed monstrous offshore wind facilities are likely to cause the death of a lot of these whales, for example by forcing them into the busiest ship traffic. Collectively we are talking about erecting thousands of square miles of excruciatingly noisy wind turbines directly in the migration path of the whales. The claim that they would not be injured by all this obstructive development is simply ridiculous.

See my

Here are some additional telling passages from the NOAA rulemaking that bear directly on the huge offshore wind threat to the a Right Whales.

“Right whale abundance will continue to decline, imperiling species recovery, unless human caused mortality is substantially reduced in the near term.”

Building massive OSW facilities will increase mortality, not reduce it.

The Mid-Atlantic region serves both as a migratory habitat for whales moving between calving areas and northern foraging grounds, as well as a foraging habitat. Right whales can be highly mobile, traveling upwards of 40 nautical miles per day, or, when engaged in certain behaviors ( e.g., foraging), relatively stationary, remaining within several miles for days. The whales’ primary distribution includes seasonal coastal habitats characterized by extensive commercial and recreational vessel traffic.”

Under present plans these seasonal habitats will also soon be characterized by incredibly massive offshore wind facilities.

“North Atlantic right whales are vulnerable to vessel strike due to their coastal distribution and frequent occurrence at near-surface depths, and this is particularly true for females with calves. The proportion of known vessel strike events involving females, calves, and juveniles is higher than their representation in the population. Mother/calf pairs are at high risk of vessel strike because they frequently rest and nurse in nearshore habitats at or near the water surface….”

Killing mother/calf pairs is the sure path to extinction.

The NOAA rulemaking is here:

The huge question is why NOAA Fisheries has not spoken out against the planned massive offshore wind development? This OSW threat is vastly greater than speedboats.

  • David Wojick, Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy. For origins see For over 100 prior articles for CFACT see Available for confidential research and consulting.

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* This article was originally published here


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