On October 23rd, the proposed extension for the Rule to Implement Speed Restrictions to Reduce the Threat of Ship Collisions with North Atlantic right whales was submitted to the Administration’s Office of Management and Budget for review. Making sure this rule was renewed has been a major focus of WDC’s Act Right Now campaign and thanks to the more than 75,000 supporters who signed the petition and submitted comments to NOAA, we are starting to see some progress!
Vessel strikes are the number one cause of deaths for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. In the last five years, however, the number of these terrible incidents has been reduced by close to 90%, thanks to the speed rule enacted in 2008. The rule requires vessels greater than 20m (65 feet) in length to slow to 10 knots in specific areas when right whales are known to be present.
This regulation has made a significantly positive difference for right whales (and many other species of whales who call the North Atlantic home), but when the White House released the rule in 2008, they did so with an unprecedented sunset clause. As a result, the rule is set to expire this December. In June of 2012, WDC and other wildlife conservation and animal protection groups filed a legal petition seeking to extend the existing 10-knot speed limit on the Atlantic coast beyond its December 2013 expiration date.
Last April, WDC and partner organizations met with White House officials reminding them that the rule resulted in ships being delayed only 2 to 36 minutes but reduced risk of strikes to this critically endangered species by 90%.
We will keep everyone updated as we learn more.
Together, we can make sure North Atlantic right whales are able to live safely and survive for future generations.