Feds Extend Voluntary Reduced Speed Zone to Protect Right Whales

BOSTON – NOAA Fisheries is extending the voluntary vessel speed restriction zone (Dynamic Management Area or DMA) established 21 nautical miles south of Nantucket.

The restriction zone, originally set on November 18, has been extended to December 11.

NOAA Fisheries says the extension is meant to protect an aggregation of 17 Right Whales sighted in the area on November 26.

NOAA says an unprecedented 20 right whale deaths were documented in 2017 and 2018, roughly 5-percent of the worldwide population.

The agency is also asking commercial fishermen to be vigilant when maneuvering to avoid accidental collisions with the whales, remove unused gear from the ocean to help avoid entanglements, and use vertical lines with required markings, weak links and breaking strengths.

Mariners are requested to navigate around the area or transit through it at 10 knots or less.

North Atlantic Right Whales are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Scientists estimate there are just over 400 remaining, making them one of the rarest marine mammals in the world.

By TIM DUNN, CapeCod.com News Center

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