Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Feds want slower ship speeds to aid Whales

"Government wants slower ship speeds to aid whales"
By DINA CAPPIELLO Mon., Aug. 25, 2008

"WASHINGTON (AP) - The government on Monday recommended a speed limit for commercial ships along the Atlantic coast, where collisions with the endangered right whale threaten its existence.

About 300-400 of the whales are left in the wild, and they migrate annually between their southeastern Atlantic breeding grounds to feeding areas off the Massachusetts coast, intersecting busy shipping lanes.

The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday the new limit, the first to be instituted on the East Coast for a marine creature, was needed to assure its survival. The rule would set a speed limit of 11.5 miles per hour (10 knots) within 23 miles (20 nautical miles) of major mid-Atlantic ports and throughout the whale's breeding and feeding areas. The new regulation would cover ships 65 feet or longer and expire in five years if not renewed. Boats from federal agencies would be exempt.

"The bottom line is that this critically endangered species needs our help," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, the agency's administrator...

"NOAA's decision on these measures is based on the best data and scientific understanding available," White House environmental adviser James L. Connaughton said Monday.

The option selected on Monday and released with an 850-page analysis of its environmental and economic impacts is narrower than the 34-mile-wide coastal speed zone first proposed for the mid-Atlantic coast by marine scientists in June 2006. Last year, in response to questions from the White House, agency experts said moving the speed-limit zone closer to shore in that region would be less protective of right whales...

The analysis published Monday said the lower speed limit could cost ferry operators $8.6 million in lost revenues annually, and even have an effect on the whale watching industry, which is expected to lose $1.3 million under the proposed regulation. The economic impact would take more of a toll on high speed vessels, which travel at 28 to 45 mph, versus ships and boats traveling at the normal 14 to 18 mph."...See full article at: http://www.cnbc.com/id/26394993/for/cnbc
On the Net:
National Marine Fisheries Service: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrike

This is something of which the Hawaii State Supreme Court should be made aware.
Aloha, Brad

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