JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement will not push for criminal charges against the crew of a fishing vessel that hit a pair of endangered, North Atlantic right whales in February 2021.
“After a thorough review of the facts of this case, NOAA OLE has declined in the interests of justice to refer this matter for civil or criminal prosecution,” a special agent with the administration wrote in a June 8 letter.
Right whales are protected by the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and a third federal law that prohibits anyone from approaching a right whale within 500 yards.
Ultimately, the administration determined that the captain of the 54-foot vessel was not at fault and could likely have done very little to prevent the crash.
Of the two whales that were hit, -- a mother and her calf, -- the calf didn’t survive its injuries. The mother, named Infinity, was later spotted by searchers off the coast of Southeast Georgia.