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Feds detail plan for protecting right whales amid growing interest in offshore wind

A North Atlantic right whale feeds on the surface of Cape Cod bay off the coast of Plymouth, Mass., on March 28, 2018. A federal appeals court has sided with commercial fishermen Friday, June 16, 2023, who say new restrictions aimed at saving the North Atlantic right whale, a vanishing species of whale, could put them out of business. The fishermen and the state of Maine appealed their case of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after losing in a lower court.
Michael Dwyer
/
AP file
A North Atlantic right whale feeds on the surface of Cape Cod bay off the coast of Plymouth, Mass., on March 28, 2018. A federal appeals court has sided with commercial fishermen Friday, June 16, 2023, who say new restrictions aimed at saving the North Atlantic right whale, a vanishing species of whale, could put them out of business. The fishermen and the state of Maine appealed their case of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after losing in a lower court.

Federal officials say they have a plan to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales amid increasing interest in potential offshore wind development. The Gulf of Maine is being eyed as a possible development ground.

A new plan from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management suggests that offshore wind projects should not be leased in places where major impacts to right whales might occur.

Potential wind energy areas for the Gulf of Maine haven't been finalized. But the federal agencies say that if development does move ahead in the Gulf, it could occur in an area that's a critical habitat for right whales.

The plans also call for the use of artificial intelligence and passive acoustic monitoring to keep track of the population and its health, and the creation of noise limits during offshore wind construction.

There are about 350 right whales remaining. The agencies said that climate change is affecting every aspect of the whales' ability to survive, including their migratory patterns, availability of prey and risks of entanglement or being struck by a vessel.

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