Right whales are protected by the Ship Strike Reduction Rule.

Endangered Whales Protected by Ship Strike Reduction Rule

According to the NOAA, a final rule has been issued to help keep protecting the endangered North Atlantic right whale by reducing lethal vessel collisions.

In 2008, the ship strike reduction rule was implemented which required large ship to travel at 10 knots or less in areas where the right whales feed, reproduce, and along their migratory routes. Since that time, the shipping and transportation industry’s cooperation has shown that the rule is meeting expectations.

“Since the ship speed restrictions went into effect, no known fatal ship strikes of North Atlantic right whales have occurred in the management zones," said Mark Schaefer, deputy NOAA administrator and assistant secretary of commerce for conservation and management. “This rule is working. Before this rule went into effect, 13 right whales died as a result of being hit by vessels in the same areas during an 18-year study period.”

There are only 425 right whales left in existence, making the whales one of the most endangered species in the world. The NOAA and the International Maritime Organization’s ship strike reduction is among the most comprehensive approaches by the NOAA to protect the whales and help them recover.

As part of the of the rule, protection actions include mariner outreach programs, surveying whale aggregation areas by airplane, and mandatory ship reporting systems that produce information on right whale locations.