Statement on North Atlantic right whale population estimate

BOSTON, MASS. (October 29, 2020) — The latest population estimate reinforces what we have known for years now: North Atlantic right whales are in steep decline. The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium report card population number for the end of 2019 stands at just 356. This subtracts the 10 known dead from the number released by NOAA of 366 for the beginning of 2019. In just the past five years, over 100 whales are estimated to have died. Unfortunately, very little is being done to reverse this trend—especially in the United States. In fact, scientists with the New England Aquarium have observed a steadily increasing level of severe injuries and deaths related to entanglements and ship strikes. Aquarium scientists have been researching the species for 40 years, generating solutions that support a balanced use of the ocean. Those solutions include shifting to weaker fishing ropes and ropeless fishing gear as well as expanding fishery closures and vessel slow down areas. The species can recover, but the U.S. and Canadian governments have to take swift and decisive action if North Atlantic right whales are to survive.