Gray Whale Info
Mon, 27 Oct 1994 11:32:06

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Subject: Gray Whale Info
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Subj:	ACTION:Monitoring Gray Whale
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 1994 09:43:41 -0700
From: Gary Trujillo <>
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Subject: ACTION:Monitoring Gray Whale
/* Written  8:32 PM  Jul 26, 1993 by gain in igc:gain.ecosystem */
/* ---------- "ACTION:Monitoring Gray Whale" ---------- */
/* Written  2:21 pm  Jul 26, 1993 by in igc:gain.ecosystem */
/* ---------- "ACTION:Monitoring Gray Whale" ---------- */
/* Written  3:46 pm  Jan 15, 1993 by in igc:gain.ecosystem */
/* ---------- "ACTION:Monitoring Gray Whale" ---------- */
  =========   GAIN UPDATE:  ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT   ========
(the following information is edited from articles in the Washington
Post and from the McClatchy News Service, as well as personal
     In a rare success story for declining wildlife, the federal
government announced Wednesday that the once imperiled California gray
whale has "fully recovered" and will be removed from the endangered
species list.  When the species was listed as "endangered", under the
Endangered Species Act its population was estimated to be 1,500 animals.
There are now believed to be 21,000 gray whales.  Estimates show the
population to be growing at 3% a year.
     While most conservation groups agree that the California gray
whales seem to be rebounding, they warn that offshore drilling, coastal
development and other hazards continue to pose threats to the whales.
Because of the whale's protection under the Endangered Species Act.
federal oil leases could not be issued in places frequented by the
animals until U.S. wildlife officials first ensured the whales would not
be injured, nor their habitat disturbed.  The fisheries agency credited
much of the recovery success to protections provided by the Mexican
Government in the Baja lagoons.  Mexico has put limits on whale watching
in Baja to minimize disturbance to whales during calving.  It also
backed away from a proposal to drill for oil and gas in calving lagoons.
     Although the California gray whale is no longer deemed
"endangered", its population will continue to be watched by federal
biologists for at least five years in accordance with the 1988
amendments to the Endangered Species Act.  The prohibition against
hunting and harming these whales will remain under the Marine Mammal
Protection Act.
     Environmental groups are divided in their opinion on what removal
from "endangered" status will mean for the California gray whale.  Some
believe that the whales will still be sufficiently protected, under the
Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Other groups feel that unless a stringent
monitoring program is adopted the California gray whale population may
again be in jeopardy.
     According to Michael Bean, Senior Attorney with the Environmental
Defense Fund, the changed status of the whale may in fact be "helpful"
in rebutting criticism that the Endangered Species act is a "one way
street- that species only go on the list and never come off."  The act
is up for re authorization by Congress, and opponents have mounted a
strong campaign against it. Among their complaints is that the
Endangered Species Act has not really helped wildlife but has cost jobs
and industry profits.
             * * * * * MONITORING SYSTEM REPORT * * * * *
     The next step in the process is to create a monitoring system for
the California gray whale.  The Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown, in
cooperation with the National Marine Fisheries Service must decide what
variables need to be monitored and to what extent.  William Snape,
attorney with the Defenders of Wildlife, feels that it is important to
monitor: the effect of off-shore oil drilling, the effect of all kinds
of oil transport, and the possible interference of shipping routes with
the whales' migration.  Barbara Britten, of the American Cetacean
Society, feels that it is important to monitor the affects of oil
exploration because the whales are very sensitive to seismic
exploration.  Ms. Britten would also monitor pollution levels in the
whales' habitat which can affect the whales food supply.  The gray whale
is a bottom feeder and any pollution which settles on the sea floor can
drastically affect the gray whale population.
     The people to contact in regard to designing the monitoring system,
for the California gray whale are Secretary of  Commerce, Ron Brown at
15th & Constitution Ave.,NW, Washington, DC 20230, Phone#: in
transition, not available, and Dr. William Fox at the National Marine
Fisheries Service, 1335 East West Hwy,Rm. 9334, Silver Springs, MD
20910-3225, Phone:  301-713-2239.
* "Gray Whale is taken off Endangered Species list", Santa Cruz
Sentinal, 1/93
  "California Gray Whale is Fully Recovered, US to Take Mammal off
Endangered List" wahsington Post, 01/01/93
  personal interviews:  Barbara Britten, American Cetacean
Society;  William Snape, Defenders of Wildlife