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Vaquita. Photo Thomas Jefferson

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blue whale

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Humpback whale © Christopher Swann

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Long-finned pilot whale

Unusual activity witnessed before pilot whale stranding

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WDC wins again – Ship speed limit rule extended to save whales

Following a long running campaign to prevent ships injuring and killing endangered North Atlantic right whales, WDC is pleased to announce that the US government authorities have agreed to permanently extend the 10-knot speed restrictions for all vessels over 65 feet long travelling along the east coast of America.

The five year long speed limit on ships moving along this stretch of the Atlantic coast was due to end this month, further threatening the existence of North Atlantic right whale.  Listed under the Endangered Species Act for more than three decades, only around 500 North Atlantic right whales remain making these whales among the rarest in the world. ‘Ship strikes’ are one of the top threats to their survival, and so WDC launched its Act Right Now campaign in 2012, calling for the speed limit to be extended beyond December 2013. Over 75,000 WDC supporters responded by writing to the US government department responsible, and WDC is delighted by the Obama administration’s announcement that the ship speed limit will now be kept in place.

“As we reflect on all that we’ve done to help protect this species over the years, and this past year specifically, we can’t help but feel proud as we celebrate the news today”, said Regina Asmutis-Silvia, executive director of WDC-North America.  “Through the robust response of our supporters, coupled with our presence in Washington, WDC has played a major role in helping to save this species!”.

The whales’ coastal feeding, breeding and nursing grounds coincide with some of the busiest shipping areas in the United States.  A recent US government publication determined that ship speed reduction measures reduced the chance of a lethal collision by close to 90%.

“For the past year we have been focused on making sure this rule stayed in effect because it is crucial for the survival of the North Atlantic right whale.” Said Emily Ryane Moss, Act Right Now Campaign Lead. “We are thrilled that policy makers have come to the same conclusion and took action to protect them.”