Notes from OHHQ

An opportunity to protect the North Atlantic right whale

February 28, 2021



Public participation is a critical element of the US policy making process. When any federal US agency needs to create a new regulation, it starts with a regulation proposal in the Federal Register. The agency is then required to request comments on that proposal by all members of the public. This public comment period offers the opportunity for people, companies, organizations, etc. to participate in the law creation process. All public comments must be read, and acknowledged. These comments can provide lawmakers with perspectives they may not have considered. Sometimes, they can help improve laws or force lawmakers to take other information into consideration. 

Right now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States is accepting public comments on a (required and much delayed) update to their Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (passed in 1997), which is intended to protect three whale species (North Atlantic right, humpback, and fin whales) from death and injury by commercial fishing nets. While these updates to the policy are important, many conservation groups don’t think they go far enough because they are based on old science, data, and technology. And for the North Atlantic right whale that is considered critically endangered (about 360 animals are known to still be alive according to a new study), time is running out to not put strict measures in place. 

So, Ocean Heroes - now is your chance to input in the US policy making process, and help to pull the North Atlantic right whale back from the brink of extinction.

OHHQ invites you to input into the public comment period

(we only have a few days left - comments are due March 1)!

Here is how:

  1. Do some research on the policy and proposed changes. You can also read about how conservation groups such as Pew Charitable Trust, Endangered Species Coalition, Georgia Conservancy, and other organizations' views of the proposed policy changes.
  2. Write a short letter to policy makers at the National National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explaining why you think it is important to protect the North Atlantic right whale from extinction by strengthening the rules they are proposing. Be sure to include a little about yourself, that you are writing to them in regards to NOAA-NMFS-2020-0031, and that you are an Ocean Hero!
  3. Consider creating a Love Letter to the Sea (or to the North Atlantic right whale) to attach to your comment!
  4. When you are ready, click on the blue button that says COMMENT at the top of this page. This is where you will have an opportunity to copy and paste your letter and include any attachments. You can choose to include your email address or submit your comment anonymously.

Make your voice heard! Be part of the policy process that helps protect our ocean and the creatures that live in it!