OCEAN CITY — With the appearance of whales feeding and frolicking off the coast of the resort last week, the Coast Guard this week is reminding large vessel operators that the Right Whale Ship Strike Reduction Rule is in effect from November to April, to protect endangered right whales in mid-Atlantic waters where they are known to migrate.
Collisions with ships and interaction with fishing gear are a major cause of mortality and injury to the North Atlantic right whale. As the federal government’s primary maritime enforcement agency, the Coast Guard is working closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on a shared goal of conserving and rehabilitating the critically endangered whale’s population, which stands at approximately 300 worldwide.
NOAA fisheries implemented the regulations, which require vessels 65 feet or longer to operate at 10 knots or less over ground in certain locations consistent with the whales’ migratory pattern along the Atlantic coast. Vessels may operate at speeds more than 10 knots only if necessary to maintain a safe maneuvering speed in an area where conditions severely restrict vessel maneuverability as determined by the pilot or master.