The New England Aquarium submitted a letter on September 16, 2019, to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in strong support of efforts necessary to reduce the risk of serious injuries and mortalities to North Atlantic right whales and other large whales caused by entanglement in commercial trap/pot fisheries along the U.S. East Coast.

The Aquarium is committed to working with NMFS, fishermen, and other stakeholders in support of taking the necessary steps required to prevent unnecessary and preventable injuries and mortalities to North Atlantic right whales resulting from entanglements in fishing gear. This population is at a tipping point, and it is past time that NMFS promulgate and enforce stronger rules and regulations to prevent this species from becoming the first marine mammal to go extinct since the Marine Mammal Protection Act was enacted in 1972.

The Aquarium strongly recommends:

  • That NMFS implements and enforces the April 2019 take reduction framework to reduce entanglements.
  • The federal government fund scientific research in the Gulf of Maine and other New England waters to monitor the status of the North Atlantic right whale population and determine changes in their distribution resulting from climate change, the effects of regulatory changes.
  • Federal support should be directed at gear modifications as well as for partnerships between the research community and the fishing industry.
Right whale #1515 with calf
Right whale #1515 with calf | Photo: NOAA/NMFS/Peter Duley, taken under MMPA research permit #17335

Right Whale Research

With fewer than 411 whales remaining, scientists and researchers at the New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life are working tirelessly to study and protect this critically endangered species.