Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware; Cory Booker, D-New Jersey; Bill Nelson, D-Florida; Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey; and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, introduced on June 8 — World Oceans Day — a bill to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

Booker is also a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Nelson is the top Democrat on the Senate’s Commerce Committee, which oversees ocean policy.

Reps. Seth Moulton, D-Massachusetts; Bill Keating, D-Massachusetts; Paul Grijalva, D-Arizona; and Jared Huffman, D-California, introduced a companion measure in the House of Representatives

The SAVE Right Whales Act of 2018 — S. 3038 — establishes a new grant program to fund collaborative projects between states, nongovernmental organization and members of the fishing and shipping industries to reduce the impacts of human activities on North Atlantic right whales.

There are fewer than 450 North Atlantic right whales remaining in the world, with a population that has found it difficult to recover from overexploitation by the whaling industry.

“In the First State, we know just how important protecting a healthy ocean environment is for our beaches, coastal communities and the diverse marine life that depend on it,” said Carper. “On this World Oceans Day, I’m proud to join Sens. Booker and Nelson to introduce a bill that aims to save the North Atlantic right whale — one of the most endangered large whales in the world that migrates off the coast of Delaware. Really lucky Delawareans have even spotted these magnificent creatures from our beaches. The right whale is an important part of our ocean ecosystem, and it is my hope that our children and grandchildren will be able to spot them off our coasts for many years to come. Now is the right time to save the right whale!”

Despite protection from whaling since the 1930s, North Atlantic right whales are vulnerable to ship collisions and entanglements with fishing gear, the two leading causes of injury and death to the whales. The U.S. fishing and shipping industries have taken major steps to address these conflicts, and there are opportunities to develop improved solutions across both industries to tackle the ongoing challenge of protecting the whales. The past year was one of the worst years on record for the species, with 18 confirmed deaths between 2017 and 2018 and no new calves observed this year — the first time no calves were observed since surveys began nearly 30 years ago.