Report | October, 2023
Go Slow, Whales Below: Vessel Strikes Continue To Threaten North Atlantic Right Whales
Oceana found that most boats 65 feet or greater are speeding through slow zones designed to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales, of which only around 340 remain.
Oceana analyzed boat speeds from November 2020 through July 2022, in mandatory and voluntary speed zones established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) along the U.S. Atlantic coast, and found that 84% of boats sped through mandatory slow zones, and 82% of boats sped through voluntary slow zones during the two-year period.
Boat strikes are a leading cause of injury and death for North Atlantic right whales. Limiting ship speeds to 10 knots is estimated to reduce a North Atlantic right whale’s risk of death from being struck by a boat over 65 feet by between 80% and 90%.
Current safeguards are not enough. As a result of these findings, Oceana is urgently calling on NOAA to immediately release the final updated Vessel Speed Rule to save North Atlantic right whales from extinction.
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