Humpback whales no longer listed as endangered after major recovery

After the government's independent scientific panel on vulnerable species determined that the mammals had achieved a significant comeback, humpback whales will be taken from Australia's list of threatened species.

The species was nearly exterminated by whaling. However, the population has significantly increased since the 1980s, when the practice was mostly abandoned.

Conservationists caution that despite an increase in their population, the creatures still face serious dangers from pollution and climate change.

Sussan Ley, the environment minister, stated that the decision was made as a result of information from the independent Threatened Species Scientific Committee that the humpback whale population was now stable enough to take them off the list.

She stated, "They looked at concerns with krill fisheries, issues with climate change, and all of the other aspects of the population trends for the species.

"The majority of the additions I make are upgrades or new additions of species and biological communities to the list.

Therefore, it is really gratifying to witness how a compelling conservation tale resulted in a species actually being removed from that list.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act still provides protection for the species in Australian seas, according to Ms. Ley, because it was identified as a migratory species and a cetacean.

Due to this classification, it is illegal to harm, seize, trade, maintain, relocate, or meddle with a humpback whale.

Population still at risk from warming

The delisting, according to marine biologist Vanessa Pirotta of Macquarie University, might help give whale species that had not recovered as quickly from whaling more attention and support.

There has been a movement to acknowledge the preservation of these creatures while simultaneously reevaluating their protection level on the list, according to Dr. Pirotta.

We can concentrate our conservation funds on safeguarding other species, including the southern right whale, because ongoing cautious monitoring of these populations will continue.

Dr. Pirotta cautioned, however, that despite the delisting, there is still work to be done since whales are still in danger, particularly due to climate change.

"Ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, noise pollution, marine pollution, and, of course, climate change are some of the problems that whales face internationally," she added.

Climate change is a significant issue since it affects where these animals may go, the distribution of their prey, and, regrettably, the habitat for Antarctic krill, which is one of the main food supplies for these humpback whale populations.

It's a win-win situation because the whale population is recovering, which is fantastic, but we also need to be cautiously hopeful and continue to monitor this species in the future.

Some environmentalists worry that the move comes too soon

Conservationists had worries about the timing when the agency was contemplating removing humpback whales off the list of vulnerable species last year.

One of them was Nicola Beynon, campaign coordinator for Humane Society International, who cautioned that the great danger presented by climate change made delisting the whales a short-sighted decision.

The return of humpback whales that travel up and down Australia's coast is unquestionably cause for celebration, according to Ms. Beynon.

"And the Australian government has taken the lead in that recovery, so we understand why the government wants to rejoice, but we are worried that it won't last long.

Climate change is the next big issue that humpback whales must deal with, and experts estimate that this hazard will cause the recovery of humpback whales to stall and even reverse.

By the turn of the century, Ms. Beynon foresaw severe population decreases.

She said that rather than entirely delisting the whales, a more cautious choice would have been preferable and that the government should think about altering the listing system's workings.

There is undoubtedly opportunity to strengthen our environmental laws to make them more responsive to risks that species may face in the future, especially when such threats are well-known and foreseen.

The current legal framework is quite clumsy since nature is obviously far more complex than that, and it is extremely black and white.
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