A Long Road in the Right (whale) Direction

Thank you National Marine Fisheries Services!

On October 15th the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) officially denied a request to reduce protections from ship strikes designed to protect the fewer than 500 remaining critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.  

Since 2004, WDC has been championing a rule which mandates that vessels 20 meters or larger to slow to 10kts at certain times of the year in specific right whale habitats along the US East Coast. The rule was originally released in 2008 with a five year sunset clause and WDC and its conservation partners successfully petitioned to extend this rule beyond its 2013 expiration.  However, celebrations were short lived as less than one month after it was extended, some members of the shipping industry petitioned the US government to remove protections in some of the east coast's busiest shipping lanes which overlap with right whale breeding and nursing grounds.  

Infographic with right whale migration and ship speed information
Infographic with right whale migration and ship speed information

WDC has been working tirelessly to keep these ship strike protections in place and could not have done it without you!  Over the past three years, WDC has filed legal petitions, met with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Obama Administration, and submitted over 80,000 requests on behalf our supporters to keep this rule in place.  Since the ship speed rule was implemented in 2008, no right whales have died by ship strikes in active ship strike reduction management areas and the risk of fatal ship strikes has been reduced by an estimated 80-90% in these areas

This is a tremendous victory, and we are very grateful to all of you, to Patagonia for supporting right whale conservation, and to the National Marine Fisheries Service, for doing the right (whale) thing!