Skip to content
All news
  • All news
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Science
  • Stop whaling
  • Stranding
Atlantic white-sided dolphin

Even locals outraged as 1400 dolphins die in Faroese hunt

Much of the criticism has come from within the country where usually there is a...

Another orca dies in captivity

SeaWorld San Diego has announced the death of yet another orca held in captivity. According...
Morgan the orca in captivity © C. Robles

Another captive orca tragedy as Morgan’s calf Ula dies

A young female orca in the wild may expect to live a long life in...
captivity_belugas_usa_wdcs

Captive beluga dies shortly after transfer into US

Sadly, a beluga known as Havoc, one of five whales recently moved from MarineLand in...
All policy news
  • All policy news
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling

Whale culture should play a part in their conservation says new international study

An international group of researchers working on a wide range of species, including whales, argues...

No change in Norway whaling quota as number of whales to be killed remains high

Norway’s Minister of Fisheries has announced that the country has set itself the same number...

Preparations for beluga whale move to Iceland continue

Ahead of the relocation of Little White and Little Grey to the world’s first open...
Photo taken by Sea to Shore Alliance under NOAA Permit #15488

Senate Leaders Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Save the North Atlantic Right Whale

After a deadly summer for North Atlantic right whales, Senators Booker (D-NJ), Isakson (R-GA) and...

Norway’s whaling future uncertain after survey shows little domestic appetite for whale meat

The future of Norway’s whaling industry appears to be in serious doubt as it struggles...
nmfs_beluga_drone_laura_morse_afsc

Moving in the wrong direction: new application would bring belugas to US marine parks

Earlier this year, WDC celebrated the passage of a landmark law to ban whale and...

Financial worth of whales revealed

http://us.whales.org/2019/09/27/financial-worth-of-whales-revealed/
Two beautiful Hector's dolphins leap just off new Zealand's coast. © Mike Bossley

Significant Victory for WDC in Fight to Save World’s Smallest Dolphins

A significant victory in the fight to save dolphins in New Zealand from extinction! This...
Orcas are crammed together in sickening conditions

Russian Citizens Call For Action to Prevent Another Whale Jail

Reports from inside Russia have revealed more than 100,000 petition signers have raised their objections...
Fin whale

Positive whaling news emerges from Iceland

News is emerging from Iceland that the company behind Iceland’s fin whale hunts, Hvalur hf,...

WDC funded research shows ‘pingers’ could save porpoises from fishing nets

Underwater sound devices called ‘pingers’ could be an effective, long-term way to prevent porpoises getting...
Beluga whales - Little Grey and Little White

Beluga Sanctuary Update – July 1st

Update: 1st July 2020 We have been working to relocate belugas, Little Grey and Little...

Vessel Speed Limits Sought to Protect Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales

North Atlantic right whale. Photo by Regina Asmutis-Sylvia

“What we are asking for are essentially school zones along our coast, areas where vessels have to slow down to keep boaters and whales safe without stopping traffic,”

-Regina Asmutis-Silvia, Executive Director of WDC’s North American office

WASHINGTON— Conservation groups filed a rulemaking petition today seeking additional ship-speed limits along the Atlantic coast to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. In June a baby right whale was found dead off the coast of New Jersey, with propeller wounds across its head, chest and tail.

The petition asks the National Marine Fisheries Service to expand the areas and times when its existing 10-knot rule applies and to make all vessel-speed restrictions mandatory, rather than voluntary, to avoid collisions that kill and injure right whales.

“What we are asking for are essentially school zones along our coast, areas where vessels have to slow down to keep boaters and whales safe without stopping traffic,” said Regina Asmutis-Silvia, executive director of Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s North American office. “Ships slowing down saves whales, smaller vessels slowing down saves lives, everyone slowing down saves a species.”

The Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund and Whale and Dolphin Conservation filed the petition, which asks for expedited consideration because of the urgent need to protect this declining population.

“Slowing ships will speed up right whale recovery by avoiding deadly collisions where these whales gather. We need to protect them while they feed and raise their families,” said Kristen Monsell, oceans legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Speed limits are a simple and effective way to prevent unnecessary deaths of these amazing whales.”

North Atlantic right whales are among the world’s most imperiled marine mammals, with only about 400 animals alive today. Thirty-one right whales have been found dead since 2017, and the Fisheries Service believes at least another 10 have died, or will die, from existing injuries.

The calf recently found off New Jersey bore signs that it had been run over by two different vessels. Another right whale calf was struck and seriously injured by a vessel earlier this year off the coast of Georgia and has not been seen again. Devastatingly, these were two out of only 10 baby whales born in the most recent calving season.

“Right whale recovery has been plagued by two major threats: entanglements and vessel strikes. In the Northeast, we’ve been addressing entanglement risks for several years,” said Erica Fuller, a senior attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation. “And now it’s time to address the risk of ship strikes. Preventing entanglements but not vessel strikes is like paying your mortgage but not your taxes. You need to do both if you want to keep your house.”

Just over half of the known or suspected causes of right whale deaths since 2017 have been attributed to vessel strikes, closely followed by entanglements in fishing gear.

The existing speed rule applies to ships 65 feet and longer and sets seasonal speed limits off Massachusetts, the mid-Atlantic, and the whale’s calving grounds in Georgia and Florida. It also establishes a voluntary dynamic management system whereby ships are asked, but not required, to slow to 10 knots or less when a group of three or more right whales is seen in an area.

“Since 2017 there have been three confirmed North Atlantic right whale deaths or serious injuries caused by vessel strikes,” said Jane Davenport, a senior attorney at Defenders of Wildlife. “Compounding this tragedy, all three were baby or juvenile right whales. We can’t save this species if we don’t protect its future.”

The groups are asking the agency to expand existing speed limits near New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Virginia further offshore and expand when the rule applies off Massachusetts. They’re also asking the agency to make the voluntary dynamic measures mandatory following several reports indicating that ships are not complying with voluntary measures.

“Rare as they are, we’ve been able to count on right whales being in our coastal waters seasonally each and every year. We need the National Marine Fisheries Service to act swiftly to protect them before they disappear,” said Sharon Young, senior strategist for marine issues for the Humane Society of the United States.

An agency review of the existing rule found that the agency should not only extend the rule but also amend it to implement necessary protections for this highly endangered species.

* * *

RW press release organizations

 WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, is the leading international charity dedicated solely to the worldwide conservation and welfare of all whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

 Conservation Law Foundation is a regional, nonprofit organization that protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. We use the law, science and the market to create solutions that preserve our natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy.

 Defenders of Wildlife is a national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native wild animals and plants in their natural communities.

 The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office.

 Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States and its affiliates around the globe fight the big fights to end suffering for all animals. Together with millions of supporters, the HSUS takes on puppy mills, factory farms, trophy hunts, animal testing and other cruel industries, and together with its affiliates, rescues and provides direct care for over 100,000 animals every year. The HSUS works on reforming corporate policy, improving and enforcing laws and elevating public awareness on animal issues.

North Atlantic right whales need safe homes and you can help.

By donating today, you can help us continue this important work on such an endangered species.

DONATE TO SAVE A SPECIES

Another way to help is by sharing this on social media!

@whales_org @whales_org @uswhalesorg @uswhalesorg @whales_org @whales_org

Leave a Comment