Reducing Speed to Protect Right Whales

Mike Schuler
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October 9, 2008

NOAA has announced today the issuance of a regulation that aims to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whales from collisions with large ships.  The regulation will require large vessels to slow to a speed of 10 knots or less when in designated areas along the east coast.  This measure is part of NOAA Fisheries Service’s ship strike reduction efforts that looks to protect this highly vulnerable and endangered species.  NOAA tells us:

With only 300 to 400 in existence, North Atlantic right whales are among the most endangered whales in the world. Slow moving right whales are highly vulnerable to ship collisions, since their migration route crosses major East Coast shipping lanes. Along with existing measures to prevent entanglement of right whales in fishing gear, the new ship strike reduction rule is the most comprehensive approach that NOAA has taken in its effort to help right whales recover.

The 10 knot speed restriction will go into effect in early December and will extend 20 nautical miles around major ports, where 83% of right whale sightings are reported.  The rule also states voluntary speed limits for vessels in areas where 3 or more right whales are known to be gathered.

Along with reducing speeds, there are several other initiatives we can take to help protect this species.  We have outlined them in a previous article titled Protecting The World’s Rarest Whales.



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