NOAA seeks permanent right-whale restrictions


NOAA Fisheries is seeking comments on a proposal to permanently adopt rules it instituted five years ago to protect North Atlantic right whales, including a 10-knot speed limit for vessels 65 feet or longer in waters where the whales gather in certain seasons.

NOAA says the speed limit has reduced the number of ship strikes on whales along the East Coast from Maine to Florida. No ship-related whale deaths have been reported in seasonal management areas since the rule went into effect in 2008, it says, and studies indicate that the measures have reduced the probability of fatal strikes by 80 to 90 percent.

"Reducing ship speeds in areas where there are endangered right whales works," NOAA Fisheries acting administrator Sam Rauch said in a statement.

NOAA's revised estimates indicate that the restrictions cost the shipping industry and other maritime communities about one-third of original 2008 projections. Its scientists say industry compliance is high and that, in most cases, vessels have incorporated speed restrictions into their standard operations and voyage planning.

The rule proposes to continue existing speed restrictions during migration periods along three regions of the U.S. East Coast (the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast). These measures are implemented during the time of year when right whales — an endangered species — occur in each area. It also would continue a voluntary 10-knot speed limit in dynamic management zones where whales appear at times and in places not covered by seasonal speed restriction zones. Biologists believe there are about 450 right whales in the Northwest Atlantic population, and the number is growing.

NOAA published the proposal in the Federal Register last Wednesday. The 60-day comment period ends Aug. 6. Comments can be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at or at

Comments can also be mailed to the Office of Protected Resources, NOAA Fisheries, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, or faxed to (301) 713-4060.


Windy Boats to Make U.S. Debut with Nautical Ventures

The Florida firm said the Scandinavian brand will complement its other European boat lines.

Beneteau America Names New President

Don Smith joined the French builder in 2018 as outboard sales manager.

Supply and Demand

Facing unprecedented demand, Brunswick plans to reopen its Palm Coast, Fla., plant and expand operations in Mexico and Portugal.

EPropulsion Announces 2021 Lineup

Its electric propulsion offerings now feature hydrogeneration capabilities, 48-volt architecture and more.

Yamaha Updates Midrange Outboards

The F250 and F300 now share features from Yamaha’s 425XTO engine, such as Digital Electric Steering and Thrust Enhancing Reverse Exhaust.

Quick Hits: January 25, 2021

Inmarsat marks significant installation milestone on its Fleet Xpress system and the NMEA announce virtual marine electronics installer training classes for next month.