Northeast Region - Northern Right Whale
Historically depleted by commercial whaling, North Atlantic right whales continue to suffer injuries and death from ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. The western North Atlantic population is currently estimated at only 300 individuals. Continued ship strikes and gear entanglements could further deplete this species and undermine its recovery.
Current Management Actions
In 1973, northern right whales were listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as endangered - in danger of extinction in all or a significant portion of their range. In the same year, the species was designated as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Federal law and Massachusetts state law prohibit approaching a right whale within 500 yards unless permitted by NMFS or unless one of the limited exemptions applies.
In December 1991, NMFS approved the Final Recovery Plan for the Northern Right Whale (including both the North Atlantic and North Pacific right whales). The Plan identified known and potential factors affecting the northern right whale and recommended actions to reduce or eliminate impacts to this species. Click here for the most current version of the Recovery Plan.