"NOAA Fisheries is seeking comments on its proposal to make permanent the rules it implemented five years ago to reduce the number of collisions between ships and North Atlantic right whales," said the NOAA press release.
"The rule proposes to continue existing speed restrictions during migration periods along three regions of the US east coast (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast). These measures are implemented during the time of year when right whales occur in each area. Speed restrictions apply to vessels that are 65 feet in length or greater, except federal agency vessels," said the NOAA statement.
"The proposed rule also seeks public input on ways to measure the effectiveness of the existing speed restrictions and whether they should be phased out in the future," said the release, adding that written comments on the proposed regulations must be sent to NOAA Fisheries no later than August 6.
Making these protections permanent will make US east coast waters safer for right whales, and will allow them to reach maturity, critical to their long-term survival," said NOAA Fisheries' acting administrator Sam Rauch. "It is a proven method to reduce deaths and serious injury."
Public comments should be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov or by visiting the comment page on the Office of Protected Resources website at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/comment.htm. NOAA Fisheries will also accept written comments mailed to: Office of Protected Resources, NOAA Fisheries, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910; or faxed to 301-713-4060.