Vessel Operations in Right Whale Protection Areas in 2009
NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-OPR-44
Published Date: 2010
One of the greatest threats to the recovery of the highly depleted North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) is collisions with ships (or “ship strikes”). The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has taken a number of steps to reduce the threat, including issuing a final rule (73 Federal Register 60173, October 2008) that requires vessels >65 feet in length to travel at 10 knots or less in certain times and locations (termed “Seasonal Management Areas”, or SMA) of right whale occurrence. NMFS also initiated a program whereby “Dynamic Management Areas” (DMA) are established in areas in which right whales are observed outside SMAs, whereby temporary zones are created and vessels are requested (but, not required) to either navigate around the zone or travel through it at 10 knots or less.