Speed zones to save right whales

Posted 1/17/24

NOAA Fisheries announced the annual opening of a Seasonal Management Area (SMA) in Cape Cod Bay to protect North Atlantic right whales starting on January 1, 2024 to May 15, 2024. All vessels 65 feet …

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Speed zones to save right whales


NOAA Fisheries announced the annual opening of a Seasonal Management Area (SMA) in Cape Cod Bay to protect North Atlantic right whales starting on January 1, 2024 to May 15, 2024. All vessels 65 feet or longer must travel at 10 knots or less in this area to reduce the threat of vessel collisions with these endangered whales.

The northern right whale population is one of the most endangered species in the world, with a total surviving population now estimated at only around 340 animals, including about 100 females that can bear young.

Because vessels of all sizes can strike and injure a right whale, NOAA Fisheries also encourages vessels less than 65 feet in length to slow down to 10 knots or less within active SMAs.

Studies have shown that ship speeds of 10 knots or less can reduce the danger of a ship collision being fatal to whales by 80 percent to 90 percent, according to Oceana.

The mandatory management area includes all waters of Cape Cod Bay with Northern Boundary of 42°04’56.5”N, 070°12’W to 42°12’N, 070°12’W then due west back to shore.

Boaters and fishers have expressed concerns about blanket mandatory speed zones restricting vessel traffic unnecessarily as today’s whale tracking technology can be used to be more selective with mandatory speed zones. Much of this is still being worked out by conservation groups, NOAA and the fishing/boating communities.

Mandatory speed zones do restrict and create economic hardship for vessels such as ferries and charter/party boats so if we can use technology to avoid harming right whales and not apply mandatory speed zones as much it would be desirable.

All boaters from Maine to Virginia, or interested parties, can sign up for email or text notifications about the latest Right Whale Slow Zones. You can also follow NOAA on Facebook (@NOAAFisheriesNEMA) and Twitter (@NOAAFish_GARFO) for announcements.

A number of voluntary speed zones, in additional to this mandatory speed zone are in effect from Maine to Virginia. For right whale sightings and speed zones visit North Atlantic Right Whale Sightings | NOAA Fisheries.

Rhode Island  shellfish areas closed

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced several shellfish areas in Narragansett Bay have been closed due to inundating rainfall throughout Rhode Island last week and this weekend.

The following areas are subject to a 10-day closure and are scheduled to reopen to shellfishing on Friday, Jan. 20, at 12 p.m., however, check DEM’s website or hotline noted below as closure dates could be extended with additional rain and/or snow melt. Areas include Upper Narragansett Bay Area A (including Mill Gut),

Upper Narragansett Bay Area B and Lower Providence River Area E’
Also, the following areas are subject to a seven-day closure and are scheduled to reopen to shellfishing on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 12 p.m., however, check for extensions on this date too. Areas include Point Judith Pond Conditional Areas, Greenwich Bay, Mount Hope Bay, The Kickemuit River, The West Middle Bay shellfish area (GA9), and The East Middle Bay shellfish area (GA3).

The emergency closures include water of Narragansett Bay north of a line running from approximately Quonset Point in North Kingstown to the northern tip of Conanicut Island (Jamestown) to the southern tip of Prudence Island to Carr Point in Portsmouth.

For information on emergency and conditional area water quality related shellfish closures, call DEM’s 24-hour shell fishing hotline at 401-222-2900, visit, or sign up for the Office of Water Resources’ listserv here:

Workshop on  fishing regulations

The Department of Environmental Management’s (DEM) Division of Marine Fisheries will hold a regulatory workshop on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, at 4:30 p.m. to solicit input regarding prospective and/or proposed amendments to the marine fisheries regulations.
This is the workshop you should attend to voice your opinion on desired regulation options shared for the species we all love to catch, eat, and/or release. Recreational species discussed at the workshop will include scup. Black sea bass, summer flounder, as well as commercial and recreational regulations for striped bass, bluefish and tautog.

The in person meeting will be held at the URI Bay Campus, Corless Auditorium, 215 South Ferry Road, Narragansett RI. The hybrid meeting’s Zoom webinar link is [] ; meeting ID: 865 6068 5183; Passcode: 565590; dial in: 1-929-205-6099 (listen only)

Please send proposals to John Lake @ no later than Thursday, February 1st if you would like your proposal included in the slide presentation. Staff are available to assist you with discussing prospective proposals.

Hartford Boat Show at  Mohegan Sun this week

The Harford Boat Show will be held Jan. 18 to Jan. 21, 2024 at Mohegan Sun’s Earth Expo Center, 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd, Uncasville, CT. The Show is sponsored by the Connecticut Marine Trades Association offering an exciting venue for this Boat Show,
See more boats and bands than anywhere else in the Harford area with cruisers, fishing boats, pontoon boats, jet skis, accessories of all types and more.

Tickets at the door $16 with children under twelve admitted free with an adult. Show hours Thursday, Jan. 18, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 19, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 20, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Jan. 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For directions and a list of exhibitors with floor plans visit

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater fishing in stocked ponds for trout and salmon continues to be good with a largemouth bass bite too. For a complete list of trout stocked ponds in Massachusetts visit Mass Wildlife at Trout stocking report | and in Rhode Island visit, or call 401-789-0281 or 401-539-0019 for more information on trout stocking.

Saltwater fishing has been limited with severe storms. However, anglers continue to catch school striped bass and an occasional keeper in salt ponds and estuaries. If you want to try your hand at cod fishing call ahead to make a party boat reservation, vessels will sail once the weather clears. Visit and Full day rates for vessels are generally $130 to $135 per adult and around $80 for those under 12 years old.

Dave Monti holds a captain’s license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to or visit

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