Good news for right whales

by Holly Doremus

March 17, 2009

This item is cross-posted by permission from Legal Planet.

 

It’s easy for environmentalists to get depressed, given the amount of bad news about climate change, species losses, and the like. But sometimes there is unexpectedly good news. This morning’s New York Times has one of those stories. The Atlantic right whale, which not long ago was thought by many to be a lost cause, appears to be rebounding. Last year brought a record number of calves, and “probably for the first time since the 1600s, not one North Atlantic right whale died at human hands.”

Scientists working on whale recovery credit recent changes in shipping lanes and speed restrictions in coastal waters, which have reduced whale strikes. An expensive but effective monitoring program has made those shipping changes possible by providing new information about key locations for whales. Scientists are optimistic that new restrictions on fishing gear will reduce entanglements, another major problem for right whales.

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Holly Doremus is James H. House and Hiram H. Hurd Professor of Environmental Regulation; Faculty Co-Director, Center for Law, Energy & the Environment; and Director, Environmental Law Program at the University of California, Berkeley.

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