Conservation groups ask White House to save the whales

There are roughly 500 animals left in the wild, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), making them critically endangered. Females only breed every three to five years and have a gestation period of 12 months.

Last week, the Humane Society of the United States, the Defenders of Wildlife, Whale and Dolphin Conservation and the Society for Conservation Biology met with administration officials to explain the significance of the regulations.

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“I made it known to officials that, according to NOAA's own data, shipping delays resulting from the rule have merely ranged from only 2 to 36 minutes," said Regina Asmutis-Silvia, the executive director of Whale and Dolphin Conservation North America, in a statement. “Data conclusively shows that the rule is working and needs additional time in place to allow North Atlantic right whales the time required to recover.”

Sharon Young, who also attended at the meeting, said the groups also pushed for the new proposed rule to include expanded protections due to changing water temperatures.

“We’ve seen these animals are now roaming outside of protected areas,” Young, the marine issues field director at Humane Society of the United States, told The Hill.

Protected areas are an important component to conservation because the whales are not often afraid of boats and will frequently approach them, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

The Humane Society of the United States originally filed a petition last year asking to NOAA to reinstate the regulations, expand the protected areas and get rid of the automatic sunset date.

“With agencies being forced to make cuts,” she continued, “having to do [the same] rule making over and over and over again doesn’t make sense. It’s really not a good use of their time.”

The White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs received the proposed rules last month for review. It has another two months to approve them.