Gray Whale “Depleted” Petition Denied

Photo by C. Coimbra

A note from Sue Arnold

CEO California Gray Whale Coalition

Dear Colleagues,

As expected, National Marine Fishery Services (NMFS) knocked back the petition in spite of a very significant number of responses which supported the concerns outlined in the document.

It’s somewhat ironic that the Marine Mammal Commission  (although not in support of a status review or upgrading to depleted status) wrote in its recommendations:  that NMFS

  • defer any status review until the scientific evidence provides a stronger basis for concluding that the population may be below its maximum net productivity level;


  • focus its research and management efforts related to the eastern North Pacific Gray whale population on continued monitoring and expanded study of  the whales’ natural history and factors that may affect conservation of the population including the whales’ responses to changes in their environment;


  • establish and fund a program to continue monitoring gray whale abundance and reproduction, and to initiate efforts to understand how climate change in the Arctic affects gray whale feeding, nutritional status and carrying capacity; and


  • take advantage of opportunities ( e.g., at meetings of the Alaska Scientific Review Group, Marine Mammal Society biennial meetings) to convene groups of gray whale researchers from Mexico, Canada, the Service, state research and management agencies, non-governmental organisations, academic
    institutions and Native American groups to discuss ways of coordinating research aimed at the issues that are most relevant to conservation of the eastern North Pacific gray whale population.


 The California Gray Whale Coalition presents considerable information … The information presented indicates that the population warrants close monitoring and attention by the National Marine & Fisheries Service, the Marine Mammal Commission and other organizations with research, management and oversight responsibilities.”

The Coalition would, of course like some parameters of a ” stronger basis of scientific evidence” for concluding the population is depleted. All the recommendations made by the Marine Mammal Commission would be dealt with by a Status Review.

In the New Year, the Coalition will seek legal advice as to whether it can sue over the decision as it is clear that a status review is urgently needed.

It is regretful that NMFS does not pursue the precautionary principle especially as NMFS scientists recently informed the Coalition that they expect this current migration season will again demonstrate very low cow calf numbers for the fifth consecutive season.

Many thanks to all who sent in comments. The Coalition will keep you posted on developments. The battle is far from over !


Sue Arnold CEO , California Gray Whale Coalition
Palo Alto. CA

Categories: nature, Whales

Tags: , , , , ,

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