Vessel Speed Restriction Zone South of Nantucket to Protect Right Whales Extended Through March 6

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NOAA Fisheries - New England - Mid Atlantic Bulletin

February 21, 2020

Vessel Speed Restriction Zone South of Nantucket to Protect Right Whales Extended Through March 6

NOAA Fisheries announces an extension to the voluntary vessel speed restriction zone (Dynamic Management Area or DMA) south of Nantucket.

On February 20, an aggregation of right whales was observed 31 nautical miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts. 

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

South of Nantucket DMA effective through March 6

41 11 N
40 22 N
069 32 W
070 37 W

Yellow box marks slow speed zone south of Nantucket

Active Seasonal Management Areas (SMAs)

mandatory speed restriction of 10 knots or less (50 CFR 224.105) is in effect in the Mid-Atlantic November 1 - April 30 and in Cape Cod Bay January 1 - May 15.

More info on Seasonal Management Areas

Right Whales Are Migrating 

North Atlantic right whales are on the move along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. NOAA is cautioning boaters and fishermen to give these endangered whales plenty of room. We are also asking all fishermen to be vigilant when maneuvering to avoid accidental collisions with whales and remove unused gear from the ocean to help avoid entanglements. Commercial fishermen should also use vertical lines with required markings, weak links, and breaking strengths. 

Right Whales in Trouble

North Atlantic right whales are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Scientists estimate there are only about 400 remaining, making them one of the rarest marine mammals in the world.

North Atlantic right whales are NOAA Fisheries' newest Species in the Spotlight. This initiative is a concerted, agency-wide effort to spotlight and save marine species that are among the most at risk of extinction in the near future. 

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.

More Information

Recent right whale sightings

Find out more about our right whale conservation efforts and the researchers behind those efforts.

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 is a violation of federal and state law. 


Recent Feature Stories about Right Whales

Listening for Right Whales in the Gulf of Maine

Make Way for Right Whales

10 Things You Should Know About Right Whales


Media: Contact Jennifer Goebel, Regional Office, 978-281-9175