Latest Science Strengthens Updated Petition for Emergency Action to Protect Right Whales

Pew and other groups call for targeted, largely seasonal closures in waters off New England

The Pew Charitable Trusts and its partners submitted on July 22 an updated petition asking the secretary of commerce to close targeted areas in the waters off New England to fishing gear with vertical ropes at times of the year when North Atlantic right whales are present. Entanglement in roped fishing gear is the top cause of death for the critically endangered species, which has been declining since 2010 and numbers only 366 individuals as of the latest estimate.

Since Pew submitted its first petition in June 2020, new science and analysis has strengthened the argument for and helped further identify the closures that would most benefit right whales. Pew is requesting that the secretary of commerce implement these closures immediately while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service, part of the Department of Commerce, works on regulations to effectively protect this species in the longer term.

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