Sustainability Environment

Lawmakers propose grant for programs to save endangered right whales

North Atlantic right whale.  Istock

Story at a glance

  • U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the Right Whale Coexistence Act.
  • The legislation will set up grants, which will be open to tribal agencies, research institutions, nonprofit organizations, vessel owners and operators, members of maritime industries and others with “required expertise.”
  • Preliminary estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show there are fewer than 350 North Atlantic right whales in existence.

A group of Democratic senators this week introduced legislation aimed at funding research to save critically endangered right whales.  

Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Tom Carper (Del.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) introduced the Right Whale Coexistence Act, which would authorize $15 million annually until 2032 to fund collaborative research between government, non-government entities and maritime industries to detrimental impacts on the declining right whale population 

The grants will be open to tribal agencies, research institutions, nonprofit organizations, vessel owners and operators, members of maritime industries and others with “required expertise.” 

“Despite ongoing efforts to protect North Atlantic right whales, the species has struggled to recover, with fewer than 340 whales currently remaining,” Booker said in a statement 

“I’m proud to introduce this bicameral legislation that will fund a collaborative and comprehensive approach between the public and private sectors to help protect this highly endangered and iconic species.” 


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“Decades of human exploitation, collisions with marine vessels, and entanglements with fishing equipment have tragically brought these beautiful animals to the brink of extinction. With only a critical number of whales left in our waters, the grant program established by the Right Whale Coexistence Act is urgently needed to preserve our marine ecosystems,” Blumenthal said.  

Preliminary estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show there are fewer than 350 North Atlantic right whales in existence. They have experienced an Unusual Mortality Event since 2017 as 34 have been documented dead and 16 seriously injured.  

Leading causes of death among the North Atlantic right whale population are primarily based on human interaction including vessel strikes and entanglements in fishing equipment.  


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