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North Atlantic right whales nearing extinction, international nature body says 

In this March 28, 2018, file photo, a North Atlantic right whale appears at the surface of Cape Cod bay off the coast of Plymouth, Mass. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Michael Dwyer

North Atlantic right whales are now considered one step away from complete eradication.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature is moving the whales from “endangered” to “critically endangered” on its red list of global species facing threats to their survival.

READ MORE: Vessel strikes blamed for at least four of nine right whale deaths in 2019

The only step beyond “critically endangered” is extinction.

Fewer than 250 mature whales were known to exist at the end of 2018, in a total population of only about 400.

Click to play video: 'Feds launch new protections for North Atlantic right whales' Feds launch new protections for North Atlantic right whales
Feds launch new protections for North Atlantic right whales – Feb 27, 2020

More than 30 whales have been killed by ships or fishing gear entanglements in the last three years, two-thirds of them in Canadian waters.

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READ MORE: 2 North Atlantic right whales spotted in Gulf of St. Lawrence

The conservation group classified right whales as endangered in 2008, and since then the population has declined more than 15 per cent.

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