Defenders served on the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Cook Inlet Beluga Recovery team, which prepared a draft Recovery Plan for the whales. The draft plan was submitted to NMFS for its review in March 2013. The public comment review period is expected to take place in 2014.
Since 2006, Defenders has also been part of a coalition of local and national conservation groups, concerned citizens, and scientists that successfully worked to get the Cook Inlet beluga whale listed as endangered in 2007. The coalition continues to monitor any efforts by the State of Alaska in the courts that seek to strip the whale’s protections.
Defenders also helped to fund and launch the Anchorage Coastal Beluga Survey (ACBS) in 2008, which trained citizen scientists each spring to collect land-based data on whale populations that is shared with NMFS. The ABCS ran successfully until 2012. Volunteer leader members of ABCS are looking to continue this citizen science effort, which provides valuable data to NMFS and builds public support for Cook Inlet belugas.