Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) reintroduced the Marine Mammal Climate Change Protection Act, legislation to better protect marine mammals that are threatened by the climate crisis.
“The climate crisis is here and warming waters are already threatening marine ecosystems, disrupting the food chain, and killing marine life. The time to act against these threats is now,“ said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “For decades, marine mammals have been safeguarded under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. My bill would update that law to require federal agencies to consider the impacts of the climate crisis on our whales, sea otters, polar bears, manatees, and other marine mammals and help protect them as the effects of the climate crisis worsen.”
“We are very pleased that Congresswoman Brownley has reintroduced the Marine Mammal Climate Change Protection Act,” said Dr. Jeff Boehm, Chief Executive Officer, The Marine Mammal Center. “Climate change is one of the defining issues facing marine mammals and the ocean. It is essential that this bill modernize the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which was created to take an ecosystem approach to marine mammal conservation, and expand it to prepare for the adverse effects of climate change. Thanks to Congresswoman Brownley’s leadership, we can protect future generations of marine mammals and people from the anticipated effects as climate change accelerates in the coming years.”
“In every region of the country, climate change is putting the future of marine mammals at risk,” said Michael Jasny, Director of Marine Mammal Protection at NRDC. “Already we are seeing whales losing habitat, stranding from malnourishment, and moving into waters where they are unprotected. This important bill would help us get ahead of what is rapidly becoming a conservation crisis for America’s marine mammals.”
The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) prohibits the harm or harassment of marine mammals without proper permitting. Additionally, under the MMPA, the federal government is responsible for developing conservation plans for marine mammals to ensure the health and stability of their ecosystem.
The Marine Mammal Climate Change Protection Act would amend the MMPA to direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop climate impact management plans for marine mammals that are at significant risk due to the climate crisis. The plans would include strategies for mitigating the harm posed to these species by climate change.
The text of the bill can be found here.