Most humpback whales no longer need ESA protection

©Florian Rohart

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has determined that most humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) no longer require listing under the Endangered Species Act. After reviewing data showing growing trends in populations worldwide, NOAA designated 14 distinct population segments of humpback whales – nine of which have exceeded their recovery goals to a point that ESA listing is no longer warranted. Of the remaining five population segments with continuing ESA protection, four are considered endangered and one is considered threatened.

The species suffered significant population declines due to commercial whaling prior to being first listed as endangered in 1970. International conservation efforts such as the International Whaling Commission’s moratorium on whaling are also credited with recovering humpback whale populations.

All humpback whales remain protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, regardless of ESA status.

Read more about the humpback whale’s recovery on NOAA’s website.