The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently announced the adoption and availability of the final Recovery Plan (Plan) for the North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica).
The Northern right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) has been listed as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since its passage in 1973.
In 2008, NMFS determined that the Northern right whale should be listed as two separate species, the North Pacific right whale and the North Atlantic right whale.
North Pacific right whales historically had a wide distribution in the Pacific Ocean, but the population was dramatically reduced by extensive commercial whaling, now prohibited by the International Whaling Commission. Scientists estimate that less than 1,000 individuals remain.
Of the commercially exploited “great whales,” the North Pacific right whale is one of the least well studied, and the current status of the North Pacific right whale population is poorly understood. Currently, the population structure of North Pacific right whales has not been adequately defined.
Because the current status of North Pacific right whales is unknown, the primary purpose of the Recovery Plan is to provide a research strategy to obtain data necessary to determine distribution and estimate population abundance, trends, and structure and to identify factors that may be limiting North Pacific right whale recovery.
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source: NOAA Fisheries