Tuesday, January 03, 2012

{Press} Coast Guard reminds boaters to limit speed

JDNews.com | January 03, 2012

"The Coast Guard is reminding operators of large vessels of a rule in place to protect the endangered Atlantic right whale.

The Ship Strike Reduction Rule is in effect from November to April to protect endangered right whales in mid-Atlantic waters where they are known to migrate. Collisions with ships and interaction with fishing gear are said to be a major cause of mortality and injury to the North Atlantic right whale.

The Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are working together to protect the critically endangered whale’s population, which stands at approximately 300 worldwide, according to a Coast Guard news release.

NOAA fisheries has implemented regulations that require vessels 65 feet or longer to operate at 10 knots or less over ground in certain locations consistent with the whales’ migratory pattern along the Atlantic coast. These locations include a 20 nautical mile radius around the port of Morehead City and Beaufort and a continuous area 20 nautical miles from shore between Wilmington and Brunswick, Ga. Vessels may operate at speeds more than 10 knots only if necessary to maintain a safe maneuvering speed in an area where conditions severely restrict vessel maneuverability as determined by the pilot or master.

“I think that anyone who’s seen one of these impressive creatures can understand why protecting them is so important,” said Lt. j.g. James Kopcsay, an enforcement officer at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina in Wilmington, via the news release. “Following the provisions of this rule is of critical importance to preventing their extinction. The Coast Guard’s goal is to educate mariners about the importance of this rule, minimizing our need to issue warnings or seek civil penalties that result from choosing to break it.”

Records indicate an average of two reported deaths or serious injuries to right whales occur due to ship strikes each year.

To report a suspected violation in the seasonal management areas, call the national hotline at 800-853-1964."

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