In this March 28, 2018 file photo, a North Atlantic right whale feeds on the surface of Cape Cod bay off the coast of Plymouth, Mass. Credit: Michael Dwyer / AP

PORTLAND — A worldwide conservation organization said this month that the status of a rare species of whale has worsened to the point where it deserves greater attention from the global environmental community.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature said it is moving the North Atlantic right whale from “endangered” to “critically endangered” on its Red List of jeopardized species. The Switzerland-based organization’s Red List is one of the most-cited endangered species lists in the world.

The IUCN said the total population of the whales declined about 15 percent from 2011 to 2018. The population is estimated to be about 400 animals now. The species has been plagued by high mortality and poor reproduction in recent years.

The IUCN said the whale’s decline “is being driven by a combination of increased mortality due to entanglement in fishing gear and vessel strikes, and a lower reproduction rate compared to previous years.” It said climate change is another concern.

The U.S. lobster industry is facing the possibility of new restrictions to try to protect the whales, which travel from Georgia and Florida to New England every year.