Three large commercial vessels who were assessed civil fines for violating speed limits in areas designated to protect an endangered whale species have paid their penalties in full. Cases against six other vessels for the same offense remain open.
The ship strike reduction rule, enacted in December 2008, restricts vessels of 65 feet or greater to speeds of 10 knots or less in seasonal management areas along the East Coast to reduce the chances of North Atlantic right whales being injured or killed by ships.
Notices of Violation and Assessment (NOVAs) were issued yesterday by the NOAA’s enforcement section to owners and operators of vessels which traveled multiple times through the protected areas at speeds well in excess of 10 knots.
The alleged speeding violations occurred between November 2009 and January 2011 outside of New York City, Charleston, Brunswick, King’s Bay and Savannah, Ga. and Mayport, Fla. One vessel was charged with 16 counts of speeding. Vessel’s documented speeds ranged from 13 to 18 knots, and the vessels traveled these speeds for as many as 26 nautical miles.
Each count in the NOVAs was assessed at $5,750, resulting in total penalty assessments ranging from $11,500 to $92,000. None of the vessels receiving NOVAs had prior violations so the owners were given 30 days to respond the charge.