NOOA sent a recommendation to the US government, proposing that it lift protection for most pf the humpback whales that live in all the oceans worldwide.
The agency wants the government to reclassify the existing population of humpback whales in 14 different categories. The agency said that 10 of these categories should be taken off the federal endangered species list.
NOOA released a statement on Monday in which it talks about the efforts to protect and restore the humpback whale population over the past 45 years and how important this proved to be.
These efforts and protection laws have helped increase the whale population to a level where thee mammals no longer need to be on the endangered species list.
However, NOOA’s recent proposed categorization of humpback whale species includes two population groups, one that lives in the western North Pacific Ocean, right off the coast of Japan, that are still considered threatened. Two other groups will continue to be listed as endangered species.
NOOA officials said that even if some species of humpback whales are taken off the endangered list, they will still be under the protection of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.
Eileen Sobeck, administrator of fisheries at NOOA, explained that as the researchers learn more about these species they realize that large populations are pretty much independent of each other.
This helps the biologists manage the species separately and allows them to concentrate on protecting the animals that are the most threatened with extinction.
The International Whaling Commission banned the hunting of the humpback whales for commercial purposes in 1966.
Because of excessive hunting, the humpback whale was on the verge of going extinct, and the U.S federal officials listed the mammals as endangered in 1970.
Since then, in the last 45 years, the humpback whale population has increased to almost 80,000 specimens, compared to less than 5,000, in the 1960s, when the animals were hunted the most.
Donna Weiting, NOAA’s director of protected species, commented that it’s a great achievement, as a nation, to be able to remove a species from the endangered list, by increasing their population through protection laws.
However, according to NOOA, there are countries, such as Norway, Japan, and Iceland, where hunting humpback whales is still legal.
Image Source: redorbit