The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries announced the enactment of two emergency regulations this week in order to protect North Atlantic right whales from collisions with vessels and entanglements.
The existing closure was set for Feb. 1 through April 30, but the extension will keep traps out of Cape Cod Bay until May 6.
A 10-knot vessel speed limit will also be in effect through May 15, with the exemption of emergency and enforcement vehicles.
According to state officials, more than 100 right whales, about 25 percent of the endangered population, were observed within western Cape Cod Bay on April 22.
“The closure was extended last year and was lifted on May 4,” said Beth Casoni, executive director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association. “The MLA hopes that the whales will feed and leave before then, as this extension is precautionary.”
Casoni said the extended closure will surely have a negative effect on fishermen in the area.
“With the price of lobster being $8 to $9 dollars a pound, it really hurts, given they have not had any income for the last four months,” she added.
State officials say the duration of the closure extension could be cut short again or prolonged based on the results of continuing aerial surveys.