Sunday, March 26, 2023
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
White House Finalizes Pacific Ocean Protections for Humpback Whale
By Court House News @ 7:49 PM :: 2434 Views :: Environment, Tourism

White House Finalizes Pacific Ocean Protections for Humpback Whale

Following a lengthy court battle, conservationists cheered as the Biden administration agreed to designate more than 100,000 square nautical miles as critical habitat for the endangered humpback whale. 

by Matthew Renda, Court House News, April 20, 2021

(CN) — The Biden administration finalized a rule that will conserve approximately 118,000 square nautical miles of the Pacific Ocean as protected habitat for the humpback whale. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration finalized the rule that conserves a large swath of ocean off the coast of North America, spanning from Southern California to the Bering Sea in Alaska. 

Conservationists tout the rule as necessary to protect three separate populations of endangered whales from ship strikes, entanglements with fishing nets and oil spills. 

“Pacific humpbacks finally got the habitat protections they’ve needed for so long,” said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Now we need to better protect humpbacks from ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear, their leading causes of death.” 

The finalization of the rule comes after a lengthy court battle between conservationists and the U.S. government ended in a 2018 settlement.

The court battle came amid a backdrop of the Trump administration’s attempt to reopen parts of the Pacific Ocean to oil and gas exploration, a move strenuously opposed by environmentalists. 

The groups initially sued the federal government over its failure to designate critical habitat for the endangered humpback whale. The population of humpback whales in the Pacific Ocean dwindled dramatically in the 20th century, as the whaling industry and widespread hunting led to a 90% reduction in the population from historic levels. 

In 1996, the International Whaling Commission issued a moratorium on the hunting of humpback whales, which remains in place. At the time, there were approximately 5,000 humpback whales left across the globe. 

Their population has rebounded as a result of conservation efforts, with the current number of whales in the waters of the world estimated at 80,000. 

Nevertheless, the animals are still prone to depredation and are often the victims of oil spills, ship strikes and fishing gear entanglements.

Fishing gear is by far the number one cause of unnatural deaths for the species. 

“To recover West Coast populations of these playful, majestic whales, we need mandatory ship speed limits and conversion of California’s deadly trap fisheries to ropeless gear,” Kilduff said. 

The center and other groups tout the California Whale Entanglement Prevention Act, which would mandate commercial trap fishing groups, including the state’s Dungeness crab industry, to convert to ropeless gear by the end of 2025. 

Humpback whales were initially listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. But in 2016, the National Marine Fisheries Service, divided the humpback whale into 14 different “breeding stocks,” and chose to list only five of the stocks as endangered. 

One such stock, which occupies waters off of California, has around 800 individuals left, making it vulnerable to disasters like oil spills and ship strikes. 

At the time, the federal agency declined to list critical habitat for the species, despite it being a requirement of the Endangered Species Act. This prompted the lawsuit, the settlement and Tuesday’s announcement that the critical habitat will be published in the Federal Register

The first critical habitat area is comprised of 48,525 square nautical miles off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington state for a distinct breeding population that winters near Central America. Another population, which winters around Mexico, received 116,098 square nautical miles in the North Pacific Ocean near Alaska. Another population, listed as threatened, also received 59,411 square nautical miles in the same region. 

While the total amount of protected area amounts to 224,030 square nautical miles, it is closer to 116,000 square nautical miles due to the overlaps between populations.


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii