For the Whales
Ship-speed restrictions have been proposed by NOAA to help protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale in New England; only about 350 right whales remain, and their numbers continue to fall. Because vessel strikes are the primary cause of death, the National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed a Ship Strike Rule that calls for reductions in ship speed limits to 10 knots in right-whale habitats. Heavy ship traffic confounds the whales’ sonar and increases the chance of strikes; top scientists believe that the rule is essential to saving the species. The final rule was to have been issued in June, but it remains held by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which has offered no public explanation for the delay.