Oct 13, 2008, 3:38 PM
New law to protect endangered right whale
We hope you will note that the US government has enacted an important regulation that is expected to reduce the number of ships colliding with whales … one of the deadliest threats to the US’s dwindling right whale population. However, strong action is still needed to make this new regulation as effective as possible. IFAW representatives are available for comment.
212 255 7541
For Immediate Release
Contact: Shawna Seldon (The Rosen Group) – (212) 255-7541; email@example.com
New U.S. ship speed rule applauded in fight to protect endangered right whale
Washington, D.C. (October 8, 2008) –The U.S. government today enacted an important regulation that is expected to reduce the number of ships colliding with whales – one of the deadliest threats to the U.S.’s dwindling right whale population. While conservation groups, including IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) whole-heartedly applaud this important first step, strong action is still needed to make this new regulation as effective as possible.
The new regulation calls for ships greater than 65 feet in length to reduce their speed to 10 knots within 20 nautical miles of key ports along the U.S. East coast. It is this region, where the highest density of both whales and ships exist – making it a danger zone for both.
“While we had hoped a 30 nautical mile zone would be established around major ports,” said Jeffrey Flocken, Director of IFAW’s D.C. office, “we are pleased by the U.S. government’s decision today to establish this new whale ship strike regulation. It will make great strides towards the protection of our nation’s endangered right whales.”
The new regulation has been sharply criticized for having what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calls a “sunset” provision, which would allow the regulation to expire after five years. NOAA has said that the provision was established in order to take into consideration “ongoing scientific research.” Critics, including IFAW, say this provision needs to go hand-in-hand with government supported research into alternative solutions.
“With this five-year ‘sunset’ provision, the sun may soon set not only on this important regulation, but on the future of right whales unless the U.S. government actively engages in developing and implementing new technologies to protect whales,” said Flocken “To be truly effective, IFAW feels it is vital for this regulation to be partnered closely with actual on the water enforcement as well as the development of improved right whale protection solutions before it is too late.” Even if all threats to right whales were eliminated today, they would still be critically endangered in five years.
Today, only 350 or so North Atlantic right whales are known to exist, making it one of the rarest of great whale species. Scientists calculate that the species will become extinct within 200 years unless urgent action is taken.
IFAW works around the globe to protect whales and their habitat. IFAW has been a key player in U.S. right whale conservation efforts, including: supporting the establishment of the Mandatory Ship Reporting System, removing discarded and dangerous fishing gear from Massachusetts waters, partnering with the U.S. government and lobster industry to develop whale safe lobster gear, supporting the disentanglement of whales caught in deadly fishing line, partnering to develop “pop-up” acoustic buoys that can detect and monitor whales, and supporting the establishment of the new U.S. whale ship strike regulation.
For more information about IFAW’s efforts, visit www.ifaw.org.