Friday, December 3, 2010

NOAA Enforces Right Whale Ship Strike Reduction Rule

NOAA recently announced that it is issuing notices of violations proposing civil administrative penalties against seven vessels for allegedly violating seasonal speed limits designed to protect one of the most endangered whales in the world. These civil administrative penalties are the first assessed since the Right Whale Ship Strike Reduction Rule was enacted on Dec. 9, 2008.

Because there are as few as 350 North Atlantic right whales still in existence, the whales are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. The Right Whale Ship Strike Reduction Rule restricts vessels of 65 feet or greater to speeds of 10 knots or less in seasonal management areas along the East Coast.

Penalty assessments in these NOVAs range from $16,500 to $49,500, depending on the frequency of the violations. The ships' owners and operators have 30 days to respond to NOVAs by paying the assessed penalty, seeking to have it modified, or requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge.

“Right whales are a highly endangered and important species,” said special agent Stuart Cory, OLE's national program manager for protected resources. “It is important to remind those that use and share the same habitat as right whales that this rule was put into place to protect these mammals. Compliance with this rule is one way NOAA is striving to prevent right whales from extinction. The species' recovery is dependent upon the protection of each remaining whale.”

source: NOAA press release

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