A federal proposal may implement an extreme vessel speed restriction of 11.5 mph for vessels 35 feet and larger when motoring through zones designated to reduce vessel strikes of endangered whales. While neither TBF, nor our fishing community would ever wish for the extinction of any marine creature, a speed reduction of this magnitude could dramatically restrain all marine-dependent commerce. Similar restrictions are even scheduled to be implemented within the eastern Gulf of Mexico to protect Rice’s Whales.
As a better potential alternative, TBF recommends the federal agency work with the U.S. Navy and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Marine Mammal Monitoring Programs to develop a warning system that alerts vessels when whales are near. TBF is currently working with Pat Healey of Viking Yachts, who leads the campaign to convince the agency and Congress that other solutions are essential.