Extended Through April 23: Voluntary Vessel Speed Restriction Zone South of Nantucket to Protect Right Whales

April 10, 2019

The voluntary vessel speed restriction zone (Dynamic Management Area) previously established south of Nantucket has been extended to protect an aggregation of right whales sighted in this area on April 7.

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The voluntary vessel speed restriction zone (Dynamic Management Area - DMA) previously established south of Nantucket has been extended to protect an aggregation of 15 right whales sighted in this area on April 7. 

This DMA is in effect through April 23, 2019.

Mariners are requested to route around this area or transit through it at 10 knots or less. Whales were spotted in or near shipping lanes so please be especially vigilant when traveling in these areas. 

Nantucket DMA coordinates:

41 12 N
40 28 N
070 36 W
069 31 W 

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Right Whales Are Migrating 

North Atlantic right whales are on the move along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. With an unprecedented 20 right whale deaths documented in 2017 and 2018, NOAA is cautioning boaters to give these endangered whales plenty of room. We are also asking commercial fishermen to be vigilant when maneuvering to avoid accidental collisions with whales, remove unused gear from the ocean to help avoid entanglements, and use vertical lines with required markings, weak links, and breaking strengths.

Right Whales in Trouble

North Atlantic right whales are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Scientists estimate there are slightly more than 400 remaining, making them one of the rarest marine mammals in the world.

In August 2017, NOAA Fisheries declared the increase in right whale mortalities an “Unusual Mortality Event,” which helps the agency direct additional scientific and financial resources to investigating, understanding, and reducing the mortalities in partnership with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and outside experts from the scientific research community.

More Info

Active Seasonal Management Areas:

Mandatory speed restrictions of 10 knots or less (50 CFR 224.105) are in effect in the following areas:

  • Cape Cod Bay SMA: in effect through May 15
  • Off Race Point SMA: in effect through April 30
  • Mid-Atlantic U.S. SMAs (includes Block Island): in effect through April 30
  • Southeast U.S. SMA: in effect through April 15

Recent right whale sightings

Find out more about our right whale conservation efforts and the researchers behind those efforts.

Download the Whale Alert app for iPad and iPhone

Acoustic detections in Cape Cod Bay and the Boston TSS

Send a blank message to receive a return email listing all current U.S. DMAs and SMAs.

Details and graphics of all ship strike management zones currently in effect.

Reminder: Approaching a right whale closer than 500 yards is a violation of federal and state law. 

Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel, Regional Office, at 978-281-9175

Last updated by Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office on April 10, 2019