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NOAA Seeks Input on Draft Ropeless Roadmap and Proposes New Vessel Speed Regulations to Protect North Atlantic Right Whales

July 29, 2022

The North Atlantic Right Whale Road to Recovery describes NOAA Fisheries’ efforts to halt the current population decline and recover the species, including new vessel speed regulations and a “roadmap” for use of ropeless gear.

North Atlantic right whale #4180 and new calf North Atlantic right whale #4180 and new calf. Credit: Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (NOAA permit #20556-01)

Endangered North Atlantic right whales are approaching extinction. The latest preliminary estimate indicates there are fewer than 350 individuals remaining and less than 100 breeding females. Primary threats to the species are entanglement in fishing gear and vessel strikes. Climate change is also affecting every aspect of their survival—changing their ocean habitat, their migratory patterns, the location and availability of their prey, and even their risk of becoming entangled in fishing gear or struck by vessels.

NOAA Fisheries announced two important steps in a series of actions the agency is taking to protect and conserve North Atlantic right whales:

  1. Proposed changes to federal vessel speed regulations to further reduce the likelihood of right whale deaths and serious injuries that result from collisions with vessels
  2. A new draft Ropeless Roadmap: A Strategy to Develop On-Demand Fishing

Both of these efforts are part of our North Atlantic Right Whale Road to Recovery. This strategy encapsulates all of our ongoing work across the agency and in collaboration with our partners and stakeholders to conserve and rebuild the North Atlantic right whale population.

Read this press release to learn more about the proposed vessel regulations and the Road to Recovery for North Atlantic right whales

Last updated by Office of Communications on August 03, 2022