Tens of thousands ask for commitment in support of North Atlantic right whales
North Atlantic right whales are slow; they also spend a lot of time at the surface of the ocean and near the coast.
All of these traits make them highly vulnerable to human activities, especially being struck by ships.
This vulnerability has marked them as one of the most endangered whales in the world, but your support of our recent efforts to protect them might have made their futures a little brighter.
This past June, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposed a new Rule to remove the expiration date, known as a “sunset clause” from the Ship Strike Rule.
The Ship Strike Rule, which was implemented in 2008 with a sunset clause set to expire at the end of this year, requires that all ships 65 feet in length or larger reduce their speed to 10 knots while in areas of heightened right whale activity, in an attempt to avoid any collisions with the slow-moving, critically endangered, North Atlantic right whale.
By traveling at only 10 knots through areas populated by North Atlantic right whales, ships are able to more carefully navigate through the channels to avoid whales. Even if a ship does strike a whale, by simply easing up on the gas, mariners can reduce the risk of a lethal ship strike by 80%.
With the absence of this sunset clause, the speed reduction regulations would continue to aid in right whale conservation efforts. In June when NMFS asked for public comments on this Proposed Rule, we asked you, our IFAW supporters, to make your voices heard by submitting a comment supporting this critical decision to eliminate the sunset clause and strengthen the current regulations.
You responded in droves!
Last Tuesday I had the privilege of delivering 31,813 of your comments to NMFS, expressing your support to remove the sunset clause from the Ship Strike Rule.
With fewer than 500 remaining, North Atlantic right whales are one of the world’s most endangered mammals, and your commitment to the protection of these magnificent animals was truly awe inspiring!
Over the past decade, IFAW has worked tirelessly alongside the US Government to protect the North Atlantic right whale. Aided by our supporters we will continue to do so, and together we will hopefully prevent the sun setting permanently on this species.
NMFS will report back in the coming months on their final decision, so stay tuned to see the outcome of your efforts. Until then, thank you from all of us here at IFAW for your tremendous effort on behalf of the North Atlantic right whales.