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Conservation groups seek to speed up protections for endangered right whales

Photo courtesy Rhode Island Sea Grant
Photo courtesy Rhode Island Sea Grant

Conservation groups are pressing for new protections for the endangered North Atlantic right whale - the whales' birthing territory stretches the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Cape Canaveral. 

The groups want the protections implemented ahead of the birthing season, which begins in mid-November. 

The conservation groups filed an emergency rulemaking petition calling on the National Marine Fisheries Service to implement a proposed measure that would expand protections. 

The federal agency issued the rule in August, but the groups say it is not on track to be implemented ahead of the birthing season. 

The North Atlantic right whale’s population is estimated at some 340. The whales are especially vulnerable to boat strikes during the birthing season, because they stay close to the surface. 

The birthing territory extends from Cape Fear, North Carolina, to south of Cape Canaveral. Last year a vessel struck a mother and calf near St. Augustine, killing the calf.

The new rule would require boats to slow down, among other things.  

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.