Federal authorities spent the past few years analyzing rules for the shipping industry and are now close to releasing fresh guidelines to help protect a vanishing species of whale.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been reviewing the speed regulations it uses to protect North Atlantic right whales, and according to spokesperson Allison Ferreira, the agency will publish new proposed rules within the coming weeks. A public comment process would follow.
Environmentalists have long pushed for stricter shipping rules to protect the whales, which number less than 340 and are vulnerable to collisions with large ships. They’ve fallen in population in recent years due to high mortality and poor reproduction.
“Those are the two primary threats to the species – entanglement in fishing gear and vessel strikes,” said Kristen Monsell, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.
The new rules could expand existing protections for the whales, which are currently protected by a network of “slow zones,” requiring mariners to transit slowly to avoid whale collisions.
Lead Image: North Atlantic right whales number less than 340 and are vulnerable to collisions with large ships. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press.
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