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

Regulatory Background

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.  

More Information

Key Documents


** Return to homepage **Northwest Region
Killer Whales
Salmon and Hydropower

Southwest Region
Recovery of Salmon and Steelhead
Activities in the Klamath River Basin
Tuna Dolphin

Northeast Region
Northern Right Whale
Summer Flounder

Southeast Region
Sea Turtles & Trawl Gear
Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper
Gulf of Mexico Grouper

Pacific Islands Region ** Return to homepage **
Hawaiian Monk Seals
Hawaii Bottomfish
NWHI National Monument

Alaska Region ** Return to homepage **
Steller Sea Lions
Crab Management
Cook Inlet Baluga Whales

National Issues

Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures
Limited Access Privilege Programs
Recreational Fisheries
Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing
Seafood and Health
Deep Coral Ecosystems