Whale entanglements drop, but remain major threat, feds say

Humpback whales. Photo courtesy NOAA/Ed Lyman. NOAA permit 14682-38079.

Courtesy Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary A proposed federal rule could expand Pacific Ocean areas where migrating humpback whales should be protected.

FILE - In this photo provided by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, an endangered North Atlantic right whale entangled in fishing rope is sighted on Dec. 2, 2021, with a newborn calf in waters near Cumberland Island, Ga. The federal government released data on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, that said entanglements of whales in fishing gear declined in 2020, but the entanglements remained a dangerous threat to endangered species such as the North Atlantic right whale. (Georgia Department of Natural Resources/NOAA Permit via AP, File)

PORTLAND, Maine — The number of whales entangled in fishing gear has declined recently, but the entanglements remain a critical threat to rare species, the federal government said in a report released Tuesday.