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Call for the Right Whale National Marine Sanctuary

The North Atlantic right whale is critically endangered. In the 1970s, with the first whale watches, there were estimated to be 350 right whales, and the population was growing. Then, in 2017, right whales took a turn for the worse. By 2020, the population had fallen to 338 right whales, with only 50-70 breeding females. We must now do more to protect and restore right whales.

It is time for community groups, interests, and organizations to call for the MA/RI Right Whale National Marine Sanctuary to protect the right whales and this critical shoaly marine habitat through education, research, and resource protection efforts informed by an active advisory council. The sanctuary would work with community and interest groups, including conservationists, scientists, fishers, windmill and boat operators, government agencies, and others. To partner with indigenous knowledge holders, named positions on the Advisory Council would include Narraganset and Wampanoag Aquinna representatives.

Adjacent to and south of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (842 square miles), the Right Whale NMS might be 7,000 square miles, including Cape Cod Bay, around the outer Cape across Nantucket Shoals to Block Island. The proposed boundary is 640 miles, including 275 miles of coastal Massachusetts and Block Island, Rhode Island.

To restore the right whale population, quarterly meetings of the Sanctuary’s Advisory Council would advance the work of the Sanctuary to develop comprehensive interagency plans, increase data sharing between academia, government, industry, and community groups to maximize the amount of data available; increase analytical rigor; develop and implement directed studies of right whale population-level changes; and work closely with local, state and government agencies to continue implementing improvements for right whales.

The lesson of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is that right whales benefitted, and the population grew when diverse interests came together to collaborate at all levels of government. But Stellwagen is too small for the wide-ranging right whales to protect them adequately. WORKING IN CONCERT WITH OTHERS, the MA/RI Right Whale National Marine Sanctuary protects and restores the population of right whales.

Take a moment to tell the government why you support establishing the MA/RI Right Whale National Marine Sanctuary.


To succeed, the Sanctuary must include all voices and perspectives.  Please complete this form if your group wants to be recognized for participating in our call for a right whale sanctuary.



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