The state Division of Marine Fisheries announced Tuesday that restrictions put in place to protect highly endangered Right Whales will be extended through May 8.
Restrictions include a ban on setting recreational and commercial traps and pots on most of Cape Cod Bay and portions of the Outer Cape and 10 knot speed limits for small vessels in Cape Cod Bay, according to a press release from the Department of Fish and Game.
On April 25, the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies conducted an aerial survey for right whales in Cape Cod and along the Outer Cape, the release states.
“The survey estimated there were five right whales feeding at or near the surface in southern Cape Cod Bay, including two mother/calf pairs, which elevates the need for conservative management. Based on historical precedence and the amount of zooplankton available in the Bay, these mother/calf pairs are not expected to linger long. The duration of these restrictions may be shortened or extended based on continuing aerial and vessel-based surveys,” according to the release.
Under the speed restriction, all vessels with an overall length of less than 65-feet operating within those waters of Cape Cod Bay south of 42° 08’ north latitude and north and east of Cape Cod west of 70°10’ west longitude may not travel at a speed of greater than 10 knots. Vessels with an overall length of 65-feet or greater are subject to a federal 10 knot speed limit rule in this area through May 15.
Both recreational and commercial fishermen will continue to be prohibited from setting any trap gear or other fixed gear within those waters under the jurisdiction of the commonwealth within Cape Cod Bay south of 42° 08.42’ north latitude and east of Cape Cod north of 41° 51.5’ north latitude at Nauset Light.
The release states that right whales are one of the most endangered whales in the world with a population of about 400. Populations suffer from low birth rates and excessive mortality among adults.