Voluntary Vessel Speed Restriction Zone Southwest of Martha's Vineyard to Protect Right Whales

April 24, 2019

A voluntary vessel speed restriction zone has been established southwest of Martha's Vineyard to protect an aggregation of 3 right whales sighted in this area on April 23.

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NOAA Fisheries announces that a voluntary vessel speed restriction zone (Dynamic Management Area or DMA) has been triggered southwest of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts to protect an aggregation of three right whales sighted in this area on April 23, 2019. 

This DMA is in effect through May 9, 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. 

DMA coordinates:

40 39 N
39 59 N
070 56 W
071 47 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
  • Great South Channel SMA -- in effect through July 31

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. 


Contact Kate Swails, Regional Office, at 978-282-8481.

Last updated by Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office on April 24, 2019