Conservation Law Foundation

The North Atlantic right whale was given its name because they were the “right” whale to kill: docile, slow, feeding close to the surface. They float when killed and have lots of blubber for whale oil. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
 
 
Candles were once the only way to have any light after dusk. That changed with the rise of commercial whaling in the 1700s. Whale oil allowed New England to come out after dark, but at a terrible cost.
The North Atlantic right whale was given its name because they were the “right” whale to kill: docile, slow, feeding close to the surface. They float when killed and have lots of blubber for whale oil.
But before they were relentlessly hunted by whalers, right whales swam across the entire North Atlantic Ocean, from North America to Northern Europe.
Today right whales are no longer the target of hunters. Now, they are killed unintentionally by collisions with ships and entanglements in fishing gear.
Shipping lanes have been rerouted and there are now speed limits designed to protect right whales. These measures have reduced the number of ship strikes.
Although changes have been made to some fishing gear, entanglement is still the number one cause of right whale deaths. At least 83% of right whales have been entangled in fishing gear; 60% have been entangled more than once.
The vertical lines of traps, pots, and fixed net fishing gear can wrap around whales, causing deep wounds and infections. Whales are sometimes forced to drag heavy fishing gear for miles over weeks, months, and years. Even if whales don't die from being entangled, the stress of dragging that heavy gear affects their overall health. Mothers used to calve every four years; now it's closer to every 10.
Warming oceans have also shifted their food supply, taking them more frequently as far north as the Gulf of St. Lawrence to feed. In 2017, an unprecedented 17 whales were killed. Most of them were female. In 2018, no new calves were born.
So where do we go from here? Although the United States government has a legal mandate to protect right whales under the Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts, it isn't taking effective action fast enough. Conservation Law Foundation and other environmental organizations are suing the United States government to compel it to follow the law and save right whales.
Help save the North Atlantic right whale.

There are solutions ready to solve this problem: ropeless gear, weaker rope, stricter ship speed limits, increased whale monitoring, seasonal closures, fewer traps.
Here in New England, North Atlantic right whales are our whales. They feed in our coastal waters, including Cashes Ledge, Stellwagen Bank, and Cape Cod Bay. For most of the year, they're here in our backyard.
We won't let the magnificent right whale disappear from New England. Not on our watch.
All artwork © Josh Kramer
 
 
CLF is a member-supported nonprofit organization that protects New England's environment for the benefit of all people. We use the law, science, and the market to create solutions that preserve our natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy.
 
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