Are Humpbacks on Their Way to Recovery?

by Michelle Frey

August 15, 2008

When I hear a piece of news, I usually take it with a grain of salt. So, earlier in the week when I read an article about humpback whale populations making an incredible recovery, let’s just say I was very skeptical. The reason I was skeptical, is because time and time again we hear that animals are taken off the endangered species list—only to help developers build in a certain area or air quality standards get relaxed, not because of “so-called” improved air, but because industry wants to loosen emission regulations.

Recently, the IUCN (World Conservation Union) reported that humpback whales have downgraded from Vulnerable to Least Concern, meaning it is at low risk of extinction.

I am really happy that humpback whales are doing much better! And, the credit goes to conservation efforts and the fact that humpbacks have been protected from commercial hunting.

But, my worry is now that the humpback whale has been “down-graded” some of their protections will be lifted. They will receive less habitat protection and many will feel that they are now in the running for commercial hunting once again. Why waste all the good work protecting them, just to go back in and decimate their populations again?

It’s also interesting to note that while some species have started to recover, no whale population has reached the level it had before industrial whaling began. Whales species are either recovering very slowly, or not recovering at all. Clearly, commercial whaling is neither sustainable nor necessary in the 21st century.

I hope the news of the humpback recovery is just the beginning! If resources continue to be put towards recover efforts and commercial whalers can keep their “hands-off”—then, it truly will be a good day for the humpbacks.


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