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Reducing Ship Strikes to North Atlantic Right Whales

Vessel Speed Restrictions

All vessels 65 feet (19.8 m) or longer must travel at 10 knots or less in certain locations [pdf] along the U.S. east coast at certain times of the year to reduce the threat of ship collisions with critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.

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Vessel Routing

Petition to Exclude Areas from Vessel Speed Restrictions

We received a petition to exclude from vessel speed restrictions Federally-maintained dredged entrance channels and pilot boarding areas for ports from New York to Jacksonville.

NOAA Fisheries considered the information in the petition, the public comments received, and related information, and found that the petitioned action is not warranted.

NOAA Fisheries believes that the safety exemption provision in the existing rule that allows for deviating from the speed restrictions when adverse conditions exist already provides mariners and pilots with sufficient latitude to ensure their vessel’s safety. We will review and revise our existing compliance guide to provide clarifying information about the navigational safety exception (i.e., the October 10, 2008 final rule's deviation provision) for the speed restrictions.

More Information



Right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) skim feeding with Delaware II in the background. Credit: Lisa Conger, NOAA/NEFSC
Right Whale photos and videos

Updated: November 18, 2015