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PNS Daily Newscast - February 23, 2018 


As the NRA doubles down on "good guys with guns," the Broward County Sheriff admits an armed deputy did not engage with the Parkland school shooter. Also on our nationwide rundown: workers across the nation will spend part of their weekend defending the American Dream; and a study says the Lone Star State is distorting Texas history lessons.

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Lifeline for Endangered Right Whales: Along Bay State and More

Action by the National Marie Fisheries Service will expand protected waters in the North Atlantic for the right whale, which is more endangered than Siberian tigers or pandas. (NMFS/NOAA)
Action by the National Marie Fisheries Service will expand protected waters in the North Atlantic for the right whale, which is more endangered than Siberian tigers or pandas. (NMFS/NOAA)
February 1, 2016

BOSTON - Wildlife protection advocates are calling it a lifeline that will protect the most endangered whales on earth, off the coast of New England and beyond. The National Marine Fisheries Service is extending the boundaries in the North Atlantic for the critically endangered right whale by approximately 39,500 square miles.

Sarah Uhlemann is senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

"The right whale is one of the most endangered large whales in the entire world," she says. "And what this does is protect more of the whale's habitat off a big chunk of the Northeast, and also the coast of the Southeast where the whales breed."

The Humane Society of the U.S. says only about 450 North Atlantic right whales exist and they are more endangered than Siberian tigers, black rhinos, or pandas. The New England stretch of the newly protected area extends from Cape Cod up to Canada in waters generally known as the Gulf of Maine.

The Humane Society's field director for marine wildlife protection Sharon Young is based in Cape Cod. She says the decision will not impact any existing fisheries off the New England coast, but it will impact fishery expansions and other types of development.

"Offshore exploration for oil and gas, proposed wind energy facilities, expansion of areas that would be considered for aquaculture," says Young. "All of those things would have to undergo much more thorough review as to their possible effects on right whales."

Uhlemann says the one downside is that the "feds" did not protect the whale's migratory waters in the mid-Atlantic, saying there was not enough information to show what aspects of that habitat are critical.

"So, twice a year they are going through the mid-Atlantic, which is one of the busiest areas in the country, so there are all sorts of risks as they travel up and down," Uhlemann says. "So, we were disappointed that the agency didn't protect that habitat in between the two feeding and calving areas."

The new rules will take effect next month.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA