An impressive area in the Pacific Ocean will be under U.S. governmental protection since it has been identified as critical habitat for endangered humpback whales, a decision hailed by conservation groups as a major victory.
“Today is a good day for humpback whales and the ocean that all living things depend on,” says Todd Steiner, Executive Director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. “Designating 116,000 square miles [300,000 km2] of critical habitat in the ocean is something to celebrate, but whales, turtles, and dolphins still need additional protection from industrial fishing and ship strikes to recover and thrive, so we won’t be resting on our laurels.”
Off the Californian coast, a population of humpback whales contains less than 800 individuals. Thanks to the new ruling, the marine species will be able to migrate and feed within a safe environment. The endangered whales are threatened by oil spills, but mainly by ships and fishing gear. The California Whale Entanglement Prevention Act is pushing for trap fisheries to go ropeless by the end of 2025.