An Assessment of the Final Rule to Implement Vessel Speed Restrictions to Reduce the Threat of Vessel Collisions with North Atlantic Right Whales
NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-OPR-48
Published Date: 2012
On 10 October 2008 the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published a “Final rule to implement speed restrictions to reduce the threat of ship collisions with North Atlantic right whales” (73 FR 60173). The rule requires that vessels 65 feet and greater in length travel at 10 knots or less near key port entrances and in certain areas of right whale aggregation along the U.S. eastern seaboard, known as “Seasonal Management Areas”. Text in the preamble of the rule indicated NMFS’s intention to also develop a “Dynamic Management Area” program to protect unpredictably occurring aggregations of right whales whereby mariners would be requested, but not required, to avoid temporarily established areas or travel through them at 10 knots or less. This “ship strike” reduction rule is set to expire five years from its effective date on 9 December 2013, before which NMFS was expected to develop ways to monitor and assess the rule’s effectiveness at reducing ship strikes of right whales.