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New Voluntary Slow Speed Zone to Protect Right Whales

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 10, 2018

NOAA Fisheries announces that the voluntary vessel speed restriction zone (Dynamic Management Area or DMA) has been established to protect a group of five right whales sighted 69 nautical miles northeast of Virginia Beach on April 10.

Mariners are requested to route around this area or transit through it at 10 knots or less.

VOLUNTARY DYNAMIC MANAGEMENT AREAS (DMAs)

Mariners are requested to avoid or transit at 10 knots or less inside the following areas where persistent aggregations of right whales have been sighted. Find out more about ship strike reduction efforts.

Northeast of Virginia Beach, VA -- In effect through April 24.

37 41 N
36 58 N
075 06 W
074 13 W 


ACTIVE SEASONAL MANAGEMENT AREAS (SMAs)

Mandatory speed restrictions of 10 knots or less (50 CFR 224.105) are in effect in the following areas:

Cape Cod Bay SMA in effect through May 15, 2018

Block Island SMA in effect through April 30, 2018

New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk SMA kn effect through April 30, 2018

Right Whales in Crisis

The year 2017 was devastating for North Atlantic right whales, which suffered a loss of 17 whales--about 4 percent of their population--an alarming number for such a critically endangered species with a population currently estimated at about 450 animals.

In August 2017, NOAA Fisheries declared the increase in right whale mortalities an “Unusual Mortality Event,” which helps the agency direct additional scientific and financial resources to investigating, understanding, and reducing the mortalities in partnership with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and outside experts from the scientific research community.

On January 22, the first right whale mortality of 2018 was spotted off the Virginia coast.

More Info:

Recent right whale sightings

Download the Whale Alert app for iPad and iPhone

Acoustic detections in Cape Cod Bay and the Boston TSS

Send a blank message to receive a return email listing all current U.S. DMAs and SMAs.

Details and graphics of all ship strike management zones currently in effect.

Reminder: Approaching a right whale closer than 500 yards in a violation of federal and state law. 

Please report all right whale sightings to 866-755-NOAA (6622). 

Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel, Regional Office, at 978-281-9175