Maine Fishing Gear Found on Dead Right Whale

Deceased female North Atlantic right whale. Photo: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute/Michael Moore. NOAA Permit # 24359.

FEBRUARY 14, 2024 (BOSTON, MA) – Federal officials have announced that entanglement in Maine fishing gear has contributed to the death of a critically endangered North Atlantic right whale that washed up on Martha’s Vineyard in late January. Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement in response.

“Entanglements are a constant threat to right whales, cutting their lives short and painting a disheartening future for this species,” said Erica Fuller, CLF Senior Counsel. “There have been concerns about the threat Maine fishing gear poses to right whales for years. It’s time to move forward with new fishing practices to give these endangered whales a chance at survival.” 

Only about 350 North Atlantic right whales are left on the planet. The deceased whale was a three-year-old female, a terrible loss to a species that desperately needs more female whales to bear calves. Congress blocked regulations to reduce entanglements in lobster gear between now and 2029, but right whales can’t wait. We must continue to provide training and funding for ropeless fishing gear to encourage fishermen to adopt this safer alternative, where necessary.

CLF experts are available for further comment.