Ships must slow down to save endangered whales, US gov’t says

by | Jul 29, 2022 | World

Vessels off the East Coast of the United States must slow down more often to help save a vanishing species of whale from extinction, the federal government has said.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) made the announcement on Friday via new proposed rules designed to prevent ships colliding with North Atlantic right whales.
Vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear are the two biggest threats to the giant animals, which number less than 340 and are falling in population.
Efforts to save the whales have long focused on fishing gear, especially that used by East Coast lobster fishermen. The proposed vessel speed rules signal that the government wants the shipping industry to take more responsibility.
“Changes to the existing vessel speed regulation are essential to stabilize the ongoing right whale population decline and prevent the species’ extinction,” state the proposed rules, which are slated to be published in the federal register.

We are proposing changes to the North Atlantic right whale vessel speed rule to reduce lethal vessel strikes. The changes mean most vessels longer than 35 feet will need to transit below 10 knots in expanded zones off the U.S. East Coast:
— NOAA Fisheries (@NOAAFisheries) July 29, 2022

The new rules would expand seasonal slow zones off the East Coast that require mariners to slow down to 10 knots (19 km/h). They would also require more vessels to comply with the rules by expanding the size classes that must slow down.
The rules also state that NOAA would create a framework to implement mandatory speed restrictions when whales are known to be present outside the seasonal slo …

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