For Immediate Release - May 01, 2014

The Patrick Administration Proclaims May 1 as Whale Awareness Day

BOSTON –Thursday, May 1, 2014 – The Patrick Administration today proclaimed May 1, 2014 as “Whale Awareness Day.”  Whales have been an integral part of Massachusetts’ culture for centuries. The Commonwealth has transitioned from the wellspring of the global whaling industry to a leader in whale conservation and research.  

“Whales are a centerpiece of Massachusetts’ sea-faring history and an important part of our ecological landscape,” said EEA Secretary Rick Sullivan. “I am proud of the successful conservation efforts that are making the recovery of this incredible species stronger every day.”

“Along with our research partners and maritime industries, Massachusetts is leading aggressive efforts to protect whales in our waters,” said Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Commissioner Mary Griffin. “By restricting boat speeds in Cape Cod Bay, requiring the use of sinking groundlines in fixed-gear fisheries, removing unused gear from our waters, and leading disentanglement efforts, our conservation and research program is contributing greatly to whale conservation.”

The waters off the Commonwealth are important habitat for a variety of whale species, including the endangered North Atlantic right whale and the humpback whale.  Approximately 50 percent of the known right whale population returns to Cape Cod Bay each winter and spring to feed on abundant zooplankton. The Gulf of Maine humpback whale population spends much of the year on Stellwagen Bank and other nearby habitats, where they support a robust whale watching industry.  

However, whales are still susceptible to the dangers of ship strike and entanglement in fishing gear.  DFG’s Division of Marine Fisheries partners with the Center for Coastal Studies, NOAA Fisheries and the Massachusetts Environmental Trust to study and protect whales in Massachusetts coastal waters.

Whale disentanglement efforts in Massachusetts are supported by sales of the iconic Whale Tail License Plate. Plates are available in any RMV branch or at www.massrmv.com. Select “Online Services”, then “Order a Special Plate” to purchase. Plates cost an additional $40 for a two-year registration.

DFG is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.

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