North Atlantic Right Whales

Due to a combination of increasing coastal ship traffic, smaller crew size, bigger vessels and faster speeds, fatal collisions between ships and whales are on the rise. Federal agencies are resisting actions designed to protect whales from collisions with ships. As a result, fatal ship strikes on whales are becoming a leading threat to survival. Deafening underwater noise levels also prevent whales from hearing approaching propellers.

Today, there are fewer than 350 North Atlantic right whales left in existence. A primary cause of right whale injury and mortality is entanglements in fishing gear. Yet, National Marine Fisheries has not implemented decisive measures to reduce these entanglements, due in part to fishing industry opposition.

Unfortunately, the United States is doing very little to reverse this trend. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the agency in charge of fisheries management and endangered marine animals, could give the right whale a much better chance of surviving, but it is choosing inaction over action, death over life. These solutions include requiring certain fisheries to move to ropeless fishing gear, expanding fishery closures, and creating mandatory and enforced vessel speed limits when right whales are present.

However, instead of taking swift action, NOAA is tying itself in bureaucratic and political knots. For example, in 2021 PEER submitted comments on proposed NOAA rule intended to limit the fishing gear entanglement risks for right whales. These rules do not go far enough. The rule attempts to reduce the risk of serious injury and death of right whales in the fisheries by at least 60 percent, instead of reducing the risk by at least 80 percent, as most scientists agree is necessary. 

The North Atlantic right whale can recover, but only if NOAA takes decisive action that supports a balanced use of our oceans.

Right Whale Mortality

Between 20 and 35% of all whales found dead show cuts and blunt trauma consistent with a ship strike;

Ship strikes are the largest known cause of death for the endangered North Atlantic right whale, and particularly calves who have undeveloped diving capability. The risk of ship collision is now the biggest threat facing the blue whale, the largest mammal on earth; and

The vast majority of ship strikes are not reported. In fact, 42 of 292 incidents were logged only because whale carcasses were pinned to the prow of ships entering harbors.

NEWS FROM PEER – Northern Right Whales

PEERMail | Save the Right Whales

Extinction is a choice that humans often make about animals and nowhere is that truer than with the North Atlantic ...

Foreign Research Vessels Free to Wreak Eco-Havoc

No Notice, Permits, or Monitoring; Mass Beaching of Rare Whales Probed

COMMENTARY | Cottontail, Dead at 12

A 12 year old male North Atlantic right whale, one of around 350 left in the world, is presumed dead after ...

BLOG | NOAA’s Failure on the North Atlantic Right Whale 

The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most critically endangered whales on the planet and NOAA's inaction ...

North Atlantic Right Whales – Births and Deaths by Year

The North Atlantic right whale is facing extinction from low births and high deaths due to ship strikes, fishing ...

NOAA Kisses Off Right Whale Survival  

New NOAA Finding at Odds with Science, Facts, and the Law  

BLOG | Proposed Definition of ‘Habitat’ Could Spell Trouble for Marine Life 

Redefining "habitats" hinders federal agencies to protect endangered marine species in an age of warming oceans, ...

NOAA to Reduce Right Whale Aerial Surveys

Eliminating Targeted Surveys Hampers Ability to Spot Whales in Distress

New Federal Licenses May Sink Lobster Fleets 

NOAA’s Past Accommodations of Lobster Industry Come Back to Bite It 

PEERMail | NOAA is Choosing Extinction

As the North Atlantic right whale careens toward extinction, NOAA leaders refuse to act on the findings of the ...

NOAA Balks at Steps to Save Remaining Right Whales  

Scientists Ignored as Agency Delays Entanglement and Ship Strike Relief

Statement | Uplisting of North Atlantic Right Whales

The IUCN has uplisted the North Atlantic right whales from endangered to critically endangered which means is it ...

Conservation Area No Longer Safe for Right Whales

Trump is stripping protections of our public lands off the New England coast, a critical conservation area for ...

Scientific Misrepresentations Sinking North Atlantic Right Whale

Federal Officials Ignored Science to Benefit Fisheries

Study: Urgent Intervention Needed To Save Right Whales

PEER calls for Fisheries Agency to Take Decisive Action

Bowhead Whale Imperiled by Arctic Drilling Plans

Scientific Warnings on Oil Spills and Seismic Noise Disregarded to Speed Lease Sales

CANADA ADVANCES RIGHT WHALE PROTECTIONS WHILE U.S. STALLS

White House Blocking Ship Speed Limits to Accommodate Foreign Flag Shippers

WHITE HOUSE WAITING GAME ON WHALE SAFEGUARDS

Time Is Running Out for Critically Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale

WHITE HOUSE BLOCKS SEA SPEED LIMITS FOR SAVING WHALES

Foreign Shipping Companies Opposed; Council of Economic Advisors Involved

NOAA ADOPTING SHIP SPEED LIMITS TO SAVE THE RIGHT WHALE

Ship Strikes are Largest Threat to Critically Endangered Marine Mammal