Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 24, 2018


Stephanie Kurose, (202) 849-8395,

Senate GOP Aims to Weaken Protections for Whales, Other Marine Mammals

WASHINGTON— Senate Republicans will hold a hearing on Wednesday designed to undermine key environmental laws that protect imperiled marine mammals like the North Atlantic right whale.

Sen. Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, will use this opportunity to advocate for loosening federal protections under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act.

“The American people oppose the Republican war on our oceans and wildlife,” said Stephanie Kurose, endangered species policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This disturbing proposal comes as Trump tries to open all our oceans to a vast expansion of dirty oil drilling. Sen. Sullivan and other Republicans want to strip away the last safeguards that whales and dolphins have against these reckless activities.” 

The Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act are the two most critical laws protecting imperiled marine mammals against threats from oil and gas drilling, harmful exploration methods like seismic blasting, and hunting and exploitation. Attempts to gut either law would have devastating consequences for marine life. 

Right whales, for example, are a highly endangered species already threatened by seismic testing, ship collisions and entanglement in fishing gear. Without protections, these whales could be devastated by expanded offshore drilling.

“Instead of bowing down to Big Oil and other special interests, Congress should be increasing protection for these vulnerable animals,” said Kurose. “Any efforts to weaken these proven environmental safeguards should be strongly opposed by coastal communities and members of Congress.”

The Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed in 1972 under President Nixon with strong bipartisan support. The law protects individual marine mammals as well as their populations, and it applies to all people and vessels in U.S. waters. Not one marine mammal found in U.S. waters has gone extinct in the 45 years since the Act became law, even as human activities in the ocean have dramatically increased.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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