Senate committee passes legislation that would help protect endangered North atlantic Right Whales

Thursday, 24 April, 2008
Washington DC, United States
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) praised the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee for passing legislation establishing speed limits on ships to reduce the number of deadly collisions between North Atlantic right whales and vessels at sea.
Introduced by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), the Ship Strike Reduction Act of 2008 would order the Secretary of Commerce to finalize federal regulations enforcing speed limits on ships, regulations that were first proposed in February 2007 and already delayed for over a year.
“Speed restrictions are the most effective, viable option for minimizing injuries and mortalities of the right whale from vessel collisions, and the government should not continue to delay implementing measures to save them.” said IFAW Washington, D.C., Office Director Jeffrey Flocken. “While we still have a long way to go before the right whale is fully protected, today’s action by the Commerce Committee is an important step in creating solid safeguards for right whales.”
Scientific evidence has shown that restricting vessel speeds to 10 knots or less for boats 65 feet or longer along whale migration routes could reduce collision deaths by nearly 60%. The proposed regulations would impose a speed limit of 10 knots or less on ships traveling along the Atlantic Coast during peak right whale migration times. The final speed limit, however, has not been released by the Bush Administration.
“Saving the North Atlantic right whale requires collaboration and shared commitment,” Flocken said.  “We thank Senators Kerry and Snowe for compelling the Administration to take action.  We hope the Administration will finalize the rule immediately and slow ships to 10 knots or less in vital right whale habitat.  We have an obligation to act now, before we lose the right whale forever.”

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