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.”