We at WDC-NA have been working overtime to raise awareness of the ship strike rule and its potential expiration, which would increase the risk to right whales. Our job here is to pay attention to policy issues such as these and call attention to them. While our official comments to the government certainly matter, the comments from ordinary citizens are what can truly make a difference. WDC is a force of advocacy and scientific information, so we can certainly make sound arguments as to why the ship strike rule should be extended, but public voices communicate the need for change to our government, and why protecting right whales matters outside of the scientific community.
WDC has been collecting signatures and comments from interested individuals since December of 2012, and on August 5th, we passed these signatures and comments from global citizens on to NOAA and the US government. At the close of this pivotal phase of our campaign, we received over 75,000 comments and signatures in support of extending the ship strike rule and implementing additional protections for right whales. At the time comments were due to NOAA, WDC had determined that 74,525 comments and signatures met the criteria needed for official submission to the government.
By telling the government that you care about right whales, they must recognize the need for change and take into account the desire of citizens to protect this species. Submitting comments is an important representation of peoples’ voice in the government, and represents how citizens can create an impetus for change. As one organization, WDC can submit one comment to the government regarding the ship strike rule, but by acting on behalf of concerned citizens, we can submit literally tens of thousands, all of which can impact the future of North Atlantic right whales.
As always, thank you for your interest in our work and thank you for helping us save a species. The collective effort of our extended community helps to quantify the need for change to our government’s policy makers. WDC appreciates the efforts of everyone who has engaged in this effort and we’ll look for continued support as we continue the fight to ACT RIGHT NOW to save the North Atlantic right Whale. Now that we’ve let NOAA know how we feel about the ship strike rule, we’re focusing on entanglements by working to reduce the amount of vertical fishing line found in critical habitat.
More on the Ship Strike Rule …
Fewer than 500 North Atlantic right whales remain, and their survival is constantly threatened by human activity, including vessel strikes and entanglements. In 2008, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) enacted a “ship strike rule” to help protect these critically endangered whales. The rule requires vessels 65ft and larger to slow to 10 knots in places right whales live, a tactic that has been proven by numerous studies to significantly reduce the risk of ship strikes to right whales. NOAA’s own data show that slowing ships reduces the chance of a ship strike by 80-90%. Despite these encouraging numbers, the rule is set to expire on December 9, 2013.
More on our international reach with this effort …
Comments from across the United States Countries taking action during this phase