NOAA Proposes a 10 knot Speed Restriction to Save Right Whales
An article by John Toth
Right whales are in danger of becoming extinct with approximately 350 of them left. Many of them are killed by entanglement with fishing gear and especially being hit by ships.
To prevent the killing of these endangered whales, NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) has proposed a new regulation banning boats from 35 feet to 65 feet long from travelling more than 10 knots (11 miles) and stretch from the coastline out to almost 100 miles. Many fishing organizations have spoken against this regulation since it would limit where these boats could fish in a day. Also, boats operate more fuel-efficiently when they are planing at speeds about 15 knots or so. This regulation would be in effect about 7 months of a year to coincide with the migration patterns of Right Whales. Violators could receive fines of up to $50,000.
NOAA did not consult the fishing industry prior to proposing this regulation. The model used by NOAA assumes a 10-meter draft depth when most boats in the 35 to 65 feet have approximately a 2 to 3 foot draft depth making their collision with a Right Whale extremely unlikely! If NOAA had consulted the fishing industry before coming up with this flawed regulation, it would have developed regulations more compatible to save Right Whales.
The fishing industry is asking NOAA to delay the implementation of this regulation until it is more practical for the boating industry.