Boston - On Monday, State Representative Dylan Fernandes (D- Falmouth) and State Senator Cyr (D-Truro) hosted an event at the State House with the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the New England Aquarium, supporting North Atlantic right whale conservation efforts. The event included the presentation of a resolution, sponsored by Rep. Fernandes, that was passed through the House in support of the Federal SAVE Right Whales Act.
“One of our largest and most remarkable seasonal visitors, the North Atlantic Right Whale is teetering on the brink of extinction. While Massachusetts has invested in protection efforts, Federal action is needed to save the whales and the resolution we passed through the House of Representatives calls on Congress to take action,” said Representative Fernandes.
The North Atlantic right whale visits Massachusetts’ waters annually with a migratory path that tracks the entire coastline and enters into critical feeding grounds in Cape Cod Bay. In recent years, the population has dwindled to around 400 individuals and fewer than 100 reproductive aged females remaining, a population so low that it threatens to collapse. Since January 2019, seven new calves have been born, but six whales have also been found dead, accounting for 1.5% of the total population. In July alone, three more whales have been spotted entangled in fishing lines and ropes.
The SAVE Right Whales Act, H.R. 1568, would create government grants that states, non-profits, and fishing and marine shipping industries could use to support efforts to help rebound the North Atlantic right whale population, including innovative technology for whale-safe gear, support for the fishing and lobster industries, and research to track plankton. The bill would also authorize $5 million annually over the next decade for research and development to reduce the two leading causes of right whale deaths: fishing gear entanglement and ship collisions.
The event included a speaking portion with Rep. Fernandes, representatives from the IFAW and the New England Aquarium, the Attorney General’s Office, local chef Jen Heilig, and Morgan Bell, Regional Director for Congressman Moulton. Rep. Fernandes presented the IFAW and the New England Aquarium with a House resolution in support of conversation efforts, including the SAVE Right Whales Act. The event also included a special guest: Calvin, the New England Aquarium’s 42ft inflatable right whale.