Citing the rebound of populations in most areas, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Monday proposed removing Endangered Species Act protections for most humpback whales.
The proposal by NOAA would reclassify the whales -- currently listed as endangered throughout their range, including off Alaska -- into 14 populations. Under the proposal, 10 of those 14 populations would no longer warrant protection under the under the act, the agency wrote in a Monday morning release.
Among the populations NOAA proposes to delist are two found in Alaska waters -- the North Pacific and Central North Pacific populations. A third population, the Western North Pacific, which also ranges into Alaska waters, would be listed as threatened.
The state of Alaska sought the whales’ delisting last year, arguing that populations in the state’s waters had recovered.
Monday’s announcement triggers a 90-day public comment period on the proposal.