More Atlantic Right Whale navigation restrictions in USA

Nothwithstanding the approval for the extension of the traffic separation scheme in the Bay of Fundy by the IMO in 2002, the north Atlantic Right Whale population on the East Coast of North America is still under threat, say US government scientists. It is understood that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plans to expand the shipping restrictions on the east coast by introducing speed restrictions and further routeing limits.

The speed restriction option has found favour with the marine biologists responsible for the issue, although the details for such limits and restrictions are as yet unknown. NOAA’s proposal is due to be announced by the end of the month followed by a 60-day public comment period. A six-month risk assessment period will then commence with a draft requirement released in early 2005.

NOAA’s research illustrates that the species is still under threat from ship strikes with at least 292 whales being hit between 1975 and 2002. With a small population of around three hundred in existence, the death of a single whale can have a severe impact on the population as a whole.

Contact: Tim Wilkins