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

May 01, 2019

New voluntary slow speed zone put in place through May 15, 2019 to protect a group of three right whales.

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A voluntary vessel speed restriction zone (Dynamic Management Area - DMA) has been established south of Martha's Vineyard to protect an aggregation of three right whales sighted in this area on April 29. 

This DMA is in effect through May 15, 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 47 N
40 072 N
070 29 W
071 22 W 

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ACTIVE SEASONAL MANAGEMENT AREAS (SMAs)

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

Great South Channel SMA -- in effect through July 31

More info on Seasonal Management Areas

Right Whales Seen in High Numbers Around Cape Cod

Whale researchers at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and colleagues are observing large numbers of North Atlantic right whales and other whale species in Northeast waters from aerial and research vessel surveys. Researchers began seeing right whales in the region in mid-November. As many as 158 individuals have been sighted on a single flight, often in aggregations of four or more. Read more.

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

Recent right whale sightings

Latest news on the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team.

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. 

Last updated by Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office on May 01, 2019