The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has announced USD 82 million (EUR 77 million) for North Atlantic right whale conservation and recovery efforts.
Of the total, USD 36 million (EUR 34 million) will be used for monitoring and modeling, roughly half of which will be dedicated to passive acoustic monitoring along the U.S.East Coast.
An additional USD 20 million (EUR 19 million) will be used to reduce vessel strikes, primarily by investing in whale detection and avoidance technology, while USD 18 million (EUR 17 million) will be invested in developing on-demand fishing gear and deployment, and USD 5 million (EUR 4.7 million) will be invested in law enforcement.
North Atlantic right whales are endangered, with roughly 340 individuals left. Two of the major threats to the population is fishing gear entanglements and vessel strikes, according to NOAA.
“During the past decade, right whales have changed their distribution patterns, spending more time in areas with fewer protections from vessel strikes and entanglements,” NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Janet Coit said.
“The species has experienced a severe population decline that has underscored the urgency to take new and innovative actions for their recovery. This funding allows us to invest in technologies to reduce the risk of vessel strikes, increase the use of on-demand fishing gear, and improve enforcement of existing federal regulations.”
The spending is part of USD 2.6 billion (EUR 2.4 billion) in Inflation Reduction Act funds the administration has dedicated to coastal resilience.
“This historic funding will allow NOAA Fisheries to make critical advancements in our work to save the endangered North Atlantic right whale species,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said.
“We are making smart investments – a cornerstone of Bidenomics – to help address the crisis these whales are facing through innovative solutions that minimize the impact on workers in marine industries.”
The federal courts recently rolled back NOAA’s attempts to put stricter regulations on lobster fishermen, requiring them to switch to new gear. In June, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled the agency had overstepped its authority in using worst-case scenarios in its biological opinion, which the court vacated.