Monday, 26 September 2016

Most humpback whales to be taken off federal endangered species list

Nine of 14 distinct populations to be removed from endangered list
Four populations still listed as endangered, one as threatened
Associated Press in Honolulu
Tuesday 6 September 2016 22.48 BSTLast modified on Wednesday 7 September 201601.10 BST

Federal authorities are taking most humpback whales off the endangered species list, saying they have recovered enough in the last 40 years to warrant being removed.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) said on Monday that nine of the 14 distinct populations of humpbacks would be removed, while four distinct populations remain listed as endangered and one as threatened.

“Today’s news is a true ecological success story,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “Whales, including the humpback, serve an important role in our marine environment.”

Last year the NMFS, an office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), proposed that humpbacks be split into 14 population segments, allowing for 10 populations to be removed from the endangered list.

It said populations of the animals had steadily grown since the international community banned commercial whaling nearly 50 years ago.

When Noaa made its proposal in April 2015, Regina Asmutis-Silvia, executive director and senior biologist for Whale and Dolphin Conservation North America, noted that the public should be interested in the issue because of the humpback whale’s role in the ecosystem and economy.

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