The New England Aquarium opposes new rules that weaken the Endangered Species Act.

Since 1973, the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) has protected the nation’s most at-risk animals, plants, and habitats. It has been successful in that mission—99% of the species protected under the ESA have been prevented from going extinct. 

In spite of this, on Monday, August 12, the Trump Administration announced sweeping changes that weaken these vital protections.

The New England Aquarium is a global leader in ocean exploration and marine conservation. We are a catalyst for global change through public engagement, commitment to marine animal conservation, leadership in education, innovative scientific research, and effective advocacy for vital and vibrant oceans. Since we opened in 1969, scientists at the New England Aquarium have been working to protect ecosystems from human impacts and conserve threatened and endangered animals and habitats.

“The Endangered Species Act is directly responsible for restoring whales, seabirds, and sea turtles to Massachusetts’ coastal waters,” said New England Aquarium President and CEO Vikki Spruill.

“Extinction rates are skyrocketing globally, and we’re only just beginning to understand the impacts climate change will have on vulnerable wildlife populations,” she said. “We need strong, vigorous regulations, not weaker ones.”  

New England Aquarium researchers view North Atlantic right whales
New England Aquarium researchers gather data on a group of North Atlantic right whales. The Aquarium's North Atlantic Right Whale Research Program is the oldest of its kind. (Photo: New England Aquarium)

In September 2018, the Aquarium was one of more than 100,000 stakeholders that overwhelming shared opposition to the Administration’s plans to weaken the ESA. 

These changes allow, for the first time, federal agencies to examine economic factors when deciding whether a species warrants protection. It also makes it harder for scientists to consider the impacts of climate change when granting protections. The new regulations make it easier to de-list species currently under protection and weaken protections for threatened species—those at-risk of becoming endangered. 

The purpose of the ESA is to “protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.” This is what helped humpback whale and manatee populations recover from the brink of extinction. It protects more than 1,600 plant and animal species and the ecosystems they rely on. We need to keep these regulations strong if we hope to protect species like the North Atlantic right whale, of which fewer than 411 animals remain. 

Our mission is to protect the blue planet. For decades, we have been dedicated to understanding and conserving these species for future generations.

The New England Aquarium strongly opposes the weakening of the ESA. 

What’s At Stake? 

North Atlantic Right Whale and calf


North Atlantic Right Whales

Since 1980, scientists at the New England Aquarium have been working to save the North Atlantic right whales from extinction. These whales face countless threats, including ship strikes, entanglement, and changes in food distribution due to climate change. There are fewer than 411 alive today.

Kemps Ridley


Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles

Every fall, the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Team helps rescue and rehabilitate hundreds of cold-stunned turtles stranded on Cape Cod. The majority are critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles—the most endangered sea turtle species in the world.