Reducing Ship Strikes to North Atlantic Right Whales
Navigational charts with mandatory 10-knot speed zones
Voluntary 10-knot Speed Zones (DMAs)*
*Mariners are requested, but not required, to either avoid DMAs or travel through them at 10 knots or less.
- Vessel speed restrictions
- Report a ship strike
- Right whale sightings
- Vessel routing
- Petition to exclude certain area
- More information
All vessels 65 feet (19.8 m) or longer must travel at 10 knots or less in certain locations [pdf] along the U.S. east coast at certain times of the year to reduce the threat of ship collisions with critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.
- How Do I Comply? [pdf]
- Maps of Seasonal Management Areas [pdf]
- Final Rule in the Federal Register
(10/10/2008, 73 FR 60173)
» Sunset clause eliminated (Dec 2013)
» Literature cited in the final rule to eliminate the sunset clause
» Proposed rule to eliminate sunset clause
- Mariner's Interactive CD and Guide to Right Whale Protection
- Merchant Mariner Education Module
- More Information on the speed restrictions
- Report a ship strike to a regional stranding coordinator.
- Great South Channel: Area to be Avoided (ATBA)
For ships weighing 300 gross tons or more, a voluntary seasonal ATBA [pdf] is in effect each year from April 1 to July 31, when right whales face their highest risk of ship strikes in this area.
- Boston, MA: Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS)
The North-South lanes of the TSS servicing Boston were narrowed from 2 miles to 1.5 miles (consistent with the East-West Boston TSS lanes) to reduce vessel collisions with whales.
- FL, GA, and MA: Recommended Routes in Key Right Whale Habitats
NOAA established recommended vessel routes in 4 locations to reduce the likelihood of ship collisions in key right whale habitats.
- Mandatory Ship Reporting systems
We received a petition to exclude from vessel speed restrictions Federally-maintained dredged entrance channels and pilot boarding areas for ports from New York to Jacksonville.
NOAA Fisheries considered the information in the petition, the public comments received, and related information, and found that the petitioned action is not warranted.
NOAA Fisheries believes that the safety exemption provision in the existing rule that allows for deviating from the speed restrictions when adverse conditions exist already provides mariners and pilots with sufficient latitude to ensure their vessel’s safety. We will review and revise our existing compliance guide to provide clarifying information about the navigational safety exception (i.e., the October 10, 2008 final rule's deviation provision) for the speed restrictions.
- North Atlantic Right Whales species information
- Right Whale Fact Sheet [pdf]
- Right Whale Ship Strike Reduction in the Northeast
- Right Whale Conservation in the Southeast
- Serious/ Non-Serious Injury of Marine Mammals
- Other Supporting/ Background Information
- Compliance with vessel speed restrictions to protect North Atlantic right whales (PeerJ)
- Large Whale Ship Strike Database [pdf] (NMFS-OPR-25)
- The role of the International Maritime Organization in reducing vessel threat to whales [pdf] (Marine Policy)
- Vessel speed restrictions reduce risk of collision-related mortality for North Atlantic right whales [pdf] (Ecosphere)
- An Assessment of the Final Rule to Implement Vessel Speed Restrictions to Reduce the Threat of Vessel Collisions with North Atlantic Right Whales [pdf] (NMFS-OPR-48)
- Vessel Operations in Right Whale Protection Areas in 2009 [pdf] (NMFS-OPR-44)
- Workshop Report: Technologies to Reduce Ship Strikes of Large Whales [pdf] (NMFS-OPR-42)
Updated: April 24, 2017