News Releases

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Isakson Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Further Protect North Atlantic Right Whales

Endangered species Georgia’s official state marine mammal

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., introduced legislation this week to further protect the North Atlantic right whale, Georgia’s official state marine mammal. The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered whales, and Georgia’s coast provides one of the few known calving grounds for the species. 

The Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered (SAVE) Right Whales Act, S.2453, would establish a grant program to promote collaboration between states, nongovernmental organizations, and members of the fishing and shipping industries to reduce human impacts on right whales and promote the recovery of the population. 

“The North Atlantic right whale was named the official Georgia state marine mammal when I served as minority leader in the Georgia State House, and I am proud that my state’s coast is still home to one of the few known calving grounds for this magnificent animal,” said Isakson. “I’m glad to introduce the Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered Right Whales Act to help learn about how we can better protect this important animal whose numbers continue to dwindle.” 

Due to years of overexploitation by the whaling industry, the North Atlantic right whale was listed as endangered in 1970 and became a protected species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, and the Georgia Endangered Wildlife Act of 1973. The state of Georgia passed legislation naming the North Atlantic right whale its official marine mammal in 1985. While the fishing and shipping industries took major steps to protect the right whale, inadvertent entanglement in fishing gear and strikes from ships have kept the North Atlantic right whale population from recovering. It is estimated that approximately 400 whales remain today. 

U.S. Senators Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Tom Carper, D-Del., first introduced the legislation in 2018. Isakson joined them in reintroducing the legislation on Tuesday for consideration during the new session of Congress. U.S. Representatives Seth Moulton, D-Mass.-06, and John Rutherford, R-Fla.-04, are leading a companion measure in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

The SAVE Right Whales Act has been endorsed by more than 30 conservation and animal welfare organizations. 

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