Reducing Ship Strikes to North Atlantic Right Whales
Navigational charts with mandatory 10-knot speed zones
Video: Slow to 10 Knots PSA
- Vessel speed restrictions
- Report a ship strike
- Right whale sightings
- Vessel routing
- Petition to exclude certain areas
- More information
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.
- How Do I Comply? [pdf]
- Maps of Seasonal Management Areas [pdf]
- Final Rule in the Federal Register
(10/10/2008, 73 FR 60173)
» Sunset clause eliminated (Dec 2013)
» Literature cited in the final rule to eliminate the sunset clause
» Proposed rule to eliminate sunset clause
- Mariner's Interactive CD and Guide to Right Whale Protection
- Merchant Mariner Education Module
- More Information on the speed restrictions
- Report a ship strike to a regional stranding coordinator.
- Great South Channel: Area to be Avoided (ATBA)
For ships weighing 300 gross tons or more, a voluntary seasonal ATBA [pdf] is in effect each year from April 1 to July 31, when right whales face their highest risk of ship strikes in this area.
- Boston, MA: Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS)
The North-South lanes of the TSS servicing Boston were narrowed from 2 miles to 1.5 miles (consistent with the East-West Boston TSS lanes) to reduce vessel collisions with whales.
- FL, GA, and MA: Recommended Routes in Key Right Whale Habitats
NOAA established recommended vessel routes in 4 locations to reduce the likelihood of ship collisions in key right whale habitats.
Mandatory Ship Reporting systems
ATTENTION : The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is conducting a survey of its North Atlantic Right Whale Mandatory Ship Reporting (MSR) system (information about the system and its requirements can be found here:
The purpose of the survey is to evaluate and improve the MSR program – and mariner feedback is needed. If you are a mariner operating or working on a vessel 300gt or greater on the east coast of the United States, or who has operated in this area in the past, NMFS is seeking your input. The survey consists of 9 questions, and also allows for additional comments. Completing the survey is expected to take less than 10 minutes. The survey is voluntary and all responses are anonymous and confidential. To take the survey, log on to:
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.
- North Atlantic Right Whales species information
- Right Whale Fact Sheet [pdf]
- Right Whale Ship Strike Reduction in the Northeast
- Right Whale Conservation in the Southeast
- Serious/ Non-Serious Injury of Marine Mammals
- Other Supporting/ Background Information
- Compliance with vessel speed restrictions to protect North Atlantic right whales (PeerJ)
- Large Whale Ship Strike Database [pdf] (NMFS-OPR-25)
- The role of the International Maritime Organization in reducing vessel threat to whales [pdf] (Marine Policy)
- Vessel speed restrictions reduce risk of collision-related mortality for North Atlantic right whales [pdf] (Ecosphere)
- An Assessment of the Final Rule to Implement Vessel Speed Restrictions to Reduce the Threat of Vessel Collisions with North Atlantic Right Whales [pdf] (NMFS-OPR-48)
- Vessel Operations in Right Whale Protection Areas in 2009 [pdf] (NMFS-OPR-44)
- Workshop Report: Technologies to Reduce Ship Strikes of Large Whales [pdf] (NMFS-OPR-42)
Updated: August 3, 2015