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Call for action as U.S. reports sharp drop in North Atlantic right whale population

A North Atlantic right whale feeds on the surface of Cape Cod bay off the coast of Plymouth, Mass., on March 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Michael Dwyer

A conservation organization is calling on the Canadian and U.S. governments to take action to protect North Atlantic right whales after new American data revealed a sharp decline in the endangered population.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported this week that as of January 2019, an estimated 366 North Atlantic right whales remained in the ocean, down from the agency’s previous count of 412 in 2018.

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In response, Oceana Canada is asking the Canadian government to impose mandatory vessel slowdowns to prevent collisions with the whales.

The group says collisions with ships and entanglement in fishing gear are the two leading causes of injury and death for right whales, and it also wants a reduction in the number of fishing lines in the water.

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Click to play video: 'North Atlantic right whale classified one class away from extinction' North Atlantic right whale classified one class away from extinction
North Atlantic right whale classified one class away from extinction – Jul 14, 2020

The NOAA, which has responsibility for marine mammal protection, estimates there are fewer than 94 breeding right whales left, further endangering the species.

Since 2017, there have been reports of 30 right whale deaths in waters off Canada and the United States, with two-thirds of the deaths in Canadian waters.

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