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Oceana Exposes Ships Flaunting Speed Rules

Oceana has released the findings of its research into vessels keeping to the voluntary speed limit zone south of Nantucket, off the US state of Massachusetts, meant to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales.

The limit of 10 knots was put in place by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to reduce the risk of injury to the whales. The monitoring took place between January 22nd and March 6th, 2020, and the results are disappointing:

  • 446 ships were surveyed and 41% were found to be breaking the voluntary speed limit.
  • 92% of the 186 ships that were breaking the limit were large cargo and tanker vessels.
  • The vast majority 96% were foreign-flagged.
  • There was one incident of extreme speeding with one ship recorded at over double the limit at 22 knots.

According to Oceana Senior Campaign Manager Gib Brogan:

“While we appreciate NOAA’s efforts, our data shows that ships simply aren’t complying with voluntary speed zones. In this case, more than 40% of the ships in the area were ignoring these voluntary speed limits and putting North Atlantic right whales in harm’s way. But when there are mandatory speed limits, ships actually slow down. NOAA must do more to protect North Atlantic right whales, including mandating that ships slow down when and where these whales are present, and increasing on-the-water enforcement to make sure they do so.”

Oceana Exposes Ships Flaunting Speed Rules
Oceana Exposes Ships Flaunting Speed Rules
Sam Helmy
Sam Helmy
Sam Helmy is a TDI/SDI Instructor Trainer, and PADI Staff and Trimix Instructor. Diving for 28 years, a dive pro for 14, I have traveled extensively chasing my passion for diving. I am passionate about everything diving, with a keen interest in exploration, Sharks and big stuff, Photography and Decompression theory. Diving is definitely the one and only passion that has stayed with me my whole life! Sam is a Staff Writer for