Speed Restrictions to Reduce the Threat of Ship Collisions With North Atlantic Right Whales
NMFS is eliminating the expiration date (or “sunset clause”) contained in regulations requiring vessel speed restrictions to reduce the likelihood of lethal vessel collisions with North Atlantic right whales. The regulations restrict vessel speeds to no more than 10 knots for vessels 65 ft (19.8 m) or greater in overall length in certain locations and at certain times of the year along the east coast of the U.S. Atlantic seaboard. The purpose of the regulation is to reduce the likelihood of deaths and serious injuries to endangered North Atlantic right whales that result from collisions with ships. The speed regulations will expire December 9, 2013, unless the sunset clause is removed. With this final rule, NMFS is removing the rule's sunset provision. All other aspects of the rule remain in place until circumstances warrant further changes to the rule.