Tourism April 21, 2015 | 11:09 am

Whales’ comeback good news for Dominican Republic tourism

Santo Domingo.- The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric (NOAA) Fisheries on Tuesday announced a comeback of the humpback whale population in many areas, which means good news for Dominican Republic’s tourism, since as many as 45,000 visitors came to Samana this year to observe the giant mammals frolicking in the warm waters.

NOA proposed to reclassify the humpback whale into 14 distinct population segments under the Endangered Species Act, providing a more tailored conservation approach for U.S. fisheries managers. Protection and restoration efforts over the past 40 years have led to an increase in numbers and growth rates for humpback whales in many areas.

“The humpback whale is currently listed as endangered throughout its range. The proposed rule finds that ten of those 14 populations do not warrant ESA listing,” the agency said.

It said while commercial whaling severely depleted humpback whale numbers, “population rebounds in many areas result in today’s larger numbers, with steady rates of population growth since the United States first listed the animal as endangered in 1970.”

Also under the proposal, two of the other four populations would be listed as endangered and the remaining two would be listed as threatened. If the proposal is finalized, the humpback whale populations that would no longer be listed under the ESA would remain protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

NOAA Fisheries initiated an extensive review of the status of humpback whales in 2010, the results of which support separating the species into distinct population segments. The review also finds that many of the populations are not in danger of extinction (endangered) or likely to become so in the foreseeable future (threatened).

“The return of the iconic humpback whale is an ESA success story,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “As we learn more about the species — and realize the populations are largely independent of each other — managing them separately allows us to focus protection on the animals that need it the most.”

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