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Alaska Department of Fish and Game


North Pacific Right Whale (Eubalaena japonica)
Critical Habitat

In compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) must designate critical habitat for each species under its jurisdiction listed under the ESA. Critical habitat is defined as “specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, if they contain physical or biological features essential to conservations, and those features may require special management considerations for protection” and “specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species if the agency determines that the area itself is essential for conservation.”

In compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) must designate critical habitat for each species under its jurisdiction listed under the ESA. Critical habitat is defined as "specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, if they contain physical or biological features essential to conservations, and those features may require special management considerations for protection" and "specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species if the agency determines that the area itself is essential for conservation." In other words, critical habitat is any area necessary for activities, such as feeding and reproduction, vital to survival of the species.

The critical habitat for the North Pacific right whale includes a large area in the Bering Sea and a relatively small area in the Gulf of Alaska just south of Kodiak Island. A map of the North Pacific Right Whale Critical Habitat area (established in 2006 and 2008) can be found at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/criticalhabitat/northpacificrightwhale.pdf.

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