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NOAA says $82 million to conserve endangered right whales is 'historic'

A pair of North Atlantic right whales interact at the surface of Cape Cod Bay, Monday, March 27, 2023, in Massachusetts.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP file
A pair of North Atlantic right whales interact at the surface of Cape Cod Bay, Monday, March 27, 2023, in Massachusetts.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it has received a "historic" amount of funding to conserve and recover critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.

Roughly $82 million in federal funds will help scientists better track and protect North Atlantic right whales, whose distribution patterns have changed within the last decade due to warming waters.

NOAA will use nearly $36 million to better monitor the right whale population, which has fewer than 340 individuals.

The funds will expand passive acoustic monitoring of the species along the East Coast and help to develop a satellite tagging program using artificial intelligence.

About $20 million will go to prevent vessel strikes, the second leading cause of death and injury to right whales after entanglement with fishing gear.

And nearly $18 million will be used to advance and expand on-demand fishing technology, with a portion of the funds devoted to training and reimbursing fishermen to test out the new techniques.

About $5 million will fund NOAA enforcement efforts.

It's unclear yet what resources will come to Maine specifically, but there's a growing push among fishermen and state regulators to better understand how right whales are using the Gulf of Maine.

The $82 million that NOAA announced this week is on top of the funds that Congress set aside for right whale monitoring and research with last year's federal spending bill.