Humpback whales rebound - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Humpback whales rebound

File image of humpback whale File image of humpback whale
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Humpback whales are making a comeback.  So much so, that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is recommending most of them be taken off the endangered species list.

"I think it's quite a big deal" said Donna Wieting , Director of NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources.
Experts now want to reclassify the species into 14 different segments to better manage each groups' needs and protections.
"Our scientific review finds that 10 of these populations are no longer in danger of extinction" said Wieting.

Hawaii humpbacks, which breed in Hawaiian waters and feed off Alaska, are included.  Their numbers are estimated to be around 10,000, with a 5-6% growth rate per year.  Even if taken off the endangered list, all 10 whale groups would still be safeguarded by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
"That law provides substantial protections to all marine mammals with prohibitions on harassing, harming marine mammals regardless of their ESA status" noted Wieting.
Of the 4 remaining segments, NOAA is recommending two be classified as threatened, and two remain endangered.  The populations proposed to be classified as threatened are in Central
America and Western North Pacific.  The ones proposed to stay endangered are in the Arabian Sea and near the Cape Verde Islands.
NOAA will now open up a 90-day public comment period from individuals and organizations.  A final decision is expected a year from today.
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