The humpback whale may be removed from the list of endangered species. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will review the designation, as the number of whales continues to grow.
In the 1966 there were only 1,400 North Pacific humpback whales. Their depletion was blamed on commercial fishing.
As they were endangered, the International Whaling Commission banned commercial North Pacific humpback whaling.
Due to the increase in population, The Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance for Conservation and Tradition Inc. filed two petitions.
The first would designate the North Pacific humpback as a distinct population. The second would remove the whales from the list of endangered species.
The NOAA announced that they will review the designation. They cited "substantial scientific and commercial information" in favor of both petitions.
The NOAA has not delisted an endangered species in 19 years. The North Pacific gray whale repopulated, and was removed from the list in 1994.
As reported by NOAA.gov, humpback whales can grow up to 60 feet long. The males are known for their beautiful and haunting songs.
Humpbacks are a favorite with whale watchers, as they often perform remarkable aerial displays. Unfortunately, whale watching ships can cause stress and injury to the whales.
The whales have been harassed by watchers, hit by boats, and had their habitat disturbed.
Conservationists are concerned that if the humpback whale is removed from the list, they will face danger from hunting as well.
The Hawaii fishermen contend that they are not specifically interested in hunting the whales. They say that the removal will help maintain a balance among ocean species'.
Worldwide, there are an estimated 60,000 humpback whales. The Hawaii fishermen's petition will only cover humpbacks in the North Pacific.
The increased number of humpback whales is good news. However, if the hunting ban is lifted, the population may decrease significantly. The NOAA will explore all possibilities before reaching a decision.
[Image via Wikimedia]