Understanding the North Atlantic Right Whale Litigation
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Understanding the North Atlantic Right Whale Litigation

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    The North Atlantic right whale is critically endangered, with a population of fewer than 400 individuals. Federal laws, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), protect the right whale and require the government to consider and avoid harm to the species before taking actions that may affect them. Entanglement with fishing gear is among the most common ways that right whales are harmed, so regulators cannot authorize fishing without first considering how much of a risk entanglement poses and adopting measures to avoid and minimize the frequency and severity of interactions between whales and fishing gear. Disagreement about the effectiveness of these measures has recently resulted in challenges to the legality of the American lobster, Jonah crab, gillnet, and other fisheries in waters off New England. While both state and federal fishing regulators have been sued, this document only discusses litigation challenging federal fisheries. These fisheries occur in waters between 3 and 200 nautical miles from shore.
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    CC0 Public Domain
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