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August 25, 2008

A whale of a rule for shippers

Posted: 04:23 PM ET

U.S. government scientists are one step closer to publishing a rule aimed at protecting the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale from ship strikes.

A North Atlantic right whale spotted at the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off Scituate, MA. Source: NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) filed its final environmental impact statement Monday, seeking public comment on its proposal to slow down commercial ships along parts of the East Coast where slow-moving right whales are found.

This is one of the most endangered of mammal species; only about 300 of the animals remain.

NOAA is proposing a 10-knot speed limit in right whale feeding grounds in and around Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and inside the "calving grounds" off Jacksonville, Florida.

The slowdown also applies to a 20-mile "bubble" near mid-Atlantic ports where and when the whales are migrating. The original proposal by NOAA scientists more than a year ago called for a 30-mile caution area around ports.

The shipping industry has been adamantly opposed to this rule. The World Shipping Council, representing more than two-dozen companies, told the government that such a speed limit would botch tightly controlled container ship schedules, make it more difficult for big ships to maneuver, and cost money.

These concerns sparked an internal debate within the Bush administration and delayed the rule. A final rule should have come out of the Office of Management and Budget over a year ago.

Right now, experts say commercial ships kill about two North Atlantic right whales every year. Even that number could mean the end of the species, according to both NOAA scientists and conservation groups.

- Alex Walker, CNN Science & Technology

Filed under: Animals • environment • science • Scientists

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S Callahan   August 25th, 2008 4:51 pm ET

It's my hope they rule in favor of the whales.
The world shipping council opposes this because it will 'alter their schedules'...come on......we have an obligation as stewarts of this world to work around life creatures on earth.. Just last week we had a young whale , Collete, euthinized because her Mother was not available to her (maybe be a victim to either boat or shark). It broke my heart to know this whale was not saved by those in the know despite others also in the know offering assistance. Because of this, I vowed i would speak out for the benifit of the whales. These creatures are beautful and deserve protection, and I'm sure their role in the great seas play to our benifit. Support the whale!

inuk of the north   August 25th, 2008 6:20 pm ET

The answer is clearly simple – stop all shipping. And while you're at it, stop driving, reproducing, eating, breathing or farting. All of these will help our dear mother earth return to her previous state of good health i.e. a scalding ball of molten lava..

nemo   August 25th, 2008 11:53 pm ET

You know I totally agree with the previous comment. All these regulations are too big an imposition. And all these other life forms are too much a hassle. And anyway, more species have already gone extinct by Nature’s hand than currently exist today. Nevermind that there were more then 10,000 North Atlantic Rights before whaling took its toll. What we really should do is just kill off the 300 that remain and put them in a museum. And do the same with all the other species that inconvenience us as well. We can send our grandchildren there when they wonder what existed before they were born. What we really need is more people. 6,600,000,000 is hardly enough. And of course unfettered access to all the resources that they’ll just have to have.

Franko   August 26th, 2008 12:05 am ET

Caught in the left lane to extinction,. ships kill only 2 per year. Killer Whales, Snatching the young Right Whales need to be speed limited also.
Give them a bullet for lack of etiquette, speed eating Right Whale babies.

Might be better to kill all remaining in North Atlantic, and North Pacific.
Then the South Atlantic and South Pacific Right Whales can migrate North.

In the South, Right Whales, in great numbers, better surviving adapted,

Nicholas   August 26th, 2008 3:29 am ET

Yup..Commercial shipping is doing worst part in the sea environment!

adm   August 26th, 2008 4:52 am ET

inuk, I suppose you're a supporter of unimpeded economic growth at the cost of every last living thing on the planet? You'd see a species go extinct just so that a boatload of shoes makes it to Foot Locker on time? This was once an ecosystem before it was a giant factory of shipping lanes and airways used to send manufactured goods from one place to another, and when we're gone, which we will be one day, it will return to that state...minus all the species we've wiped out of course. You may wanna check your attitude.

Magik Dolphin   August 26th, 2008 7:40 am ET

Its sad how some people are ignorant to the world. Our jobs as humans is to protect mother nature since we are the one's destroying her. We need to protect all living life; plant or animal. Without them there is no US.

Trinity   August 26th, 2008 8:54 am ET

Is all of humanity really that stupid, to think that these whales have no impact on our lives other than slowing down the greedy shipping industry? Shipping the very oil that our government rapes us for.

Preservation of all earths creatures should be our concern, not how fast our Amazon order can get to our front door.

Mike   August 26th, 2008 10:15 am ET

Every species that becomes extinct under our leadership is a huge failure! We have the ability and knowledge to correct our mistakes, so let's get this law passed, so what if it takes an extra day for the ship to make port, once a species is extinct, it is gone forever, there is no turning back.

Sarah   August 26th, 2008 10:46 am ET

This is not something to joke about. Sure, there are other causes of death to these whales, but it is important to recognize the significant contribution that ships are making to the extinction of the right whale. Two whales per year may not sound like a lot, but when there are only 300 left in the whole world, that is a significant number. To put that into perspective, that is like having 44,795,739 people die each year from a preventable cause (if we use 6,719,360,943 as the world population as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau). I am sure that something would be done to save nearly 45 million people, so why not save the same proportion of the right whale population? Too many humans have a disgusting sense of entitlement. The truth is, this earth is for all creatures to share–even if we happen to be the most violent and self-enamored species. No one is asking us to "stop driving, reproducing, eating, breathing or farting" as Inuk so eloquently put it. But we are obligated as stewards of the earth to do what we can to preserve what we were given for future generations. Yes, it may mean some inconveniences from time to time, but are we really so selfish that we can't give up a bit of shipping time or some other convenience for the greater good? Maybe that is a silly question; if Inuk's opinion represents that of the majority then I guess people really are that self-centered and any hope of restoring some of the delicate balance in the world's ecosystem is lost.

Franko   August 26th, 2008 11:48 am ET

Right Whale Cow is just a big cow. Can many McDonald Hamburger make.
Left Whale, in Southern Hemisphere, wants to become Cow Whale Right.
Alas, North Right, keep out the Southern Left. Whale Political Prejudice ?

"southern hemisphere right whale populations appear to be growing about 6%-7% per year"

Bible gave dominion ower cows, espeially, slow swimming, disrupting shipping.

Sarah   August 26th, 2008 12:11 pm ET

Franko: If you are going to start using the Bible as evidence, know what you are talking about. The Bible gives man dominion over creatures to be used for purposes of survival (i.e. food)–not just to slaughter out of convenience. According to Genesis 1: 28-30: “And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so.” It is important to read this carefully; there is absolutely no license given to man to kill animals (or plants or any living things) simply to promote his economic prowess over other human beings. Dominion was given so that man could eat and survive. So if you are going to start using the Bible to support your egocentric, selfish viewpoint that humans are entitled to kill whatever gets in the way of turning a profit, at least try to find a passage that actually supports you and doesn’t work against you.

It is because of selfishness like this that the earth is in the state it is in. Grow up. Get a clue and take responsibility. You aren’t the only one who has to live here, and without creatures such as whales, our ecosystem will deteriorate to the point where, years down the road, it may fail to continue to support human beings. Every living thing is connected whether those connections are immediately apparent or not.

Franko   August 26th, 2008 12:24 pm ET

Move the 500 North Right Whales South. Darwin, Whale of a Left, Right fight.
Whale Wars as a TV series. Fit to Survive ?

Franko   August 26th, 2008 12:32 pm ET

David Fitzgerald August 26th, 2008 11:10 am ET

"Just what we need. Environmental Facism slowing down international trade with the US over a damn whale. Just past the cost on to the good old consumers. At some point Americans are going to wake up and start clipping the wings on these environmental wackos."

S Callahan   August 26th, 2008 6:14 pm ET

Nice spirit Sarah.......
As I said in the first comment...we ARE the stewards of this earth.

Franko   August 26th, 2008 9:36 pm ET

Total population is considerably greater. Wiki gives: "7,500 Southern Right Whales are spread throughout the southern part of the Southern Hemisphere;"

Problem is, blubber insulates too well, oceans are too hot.
Cannot cross Equator. North and South cannot have a breeding orgy.

EcoDollars to establish a Whale of a Club Med.
Vacation North and South. Stewardshipping Whales and commerce.

The offspring will have greater statistical IQ distribution.
Some, smart enough to get out of the way, avoid ocean shipping lane kill.

Subjugation, a righteous result of domination, is the correct Biblical interpretation.
Get out of our shipping lane way, become domesticated or extinct.
McDonald's Hamburger Cow, living as God intended. Contended Cow Harmony. Drowning out the growl of hunger.

misty   August 28th, 2008 12:40 pm ET

Why is that every time someone wants to save a species, or save the enviroment they are called enviromental wackos?? Like what they are doing is just crazy, and they are crazy people. I do not understand that logic. I would be proud to be called a tree hugger. That means I care about the earth and want to preserve it for future generation. These comments regarding this story really make me loose hope. People could care less about the animals that share this earth with us. I hope this is not the opinion of the majority. If so earth and all of her inhabitants are in trouble.

Franko   August 28th, 2008 1:48 pm ET

"If so earth and all of her inhabitants are in trouble."

300 Dodo Whales, not adapted to swim South, or avoid the flow of commerce.
The Dodo went extinct, but "earth and all of her inhabitants", not in trouble.
EnviroSimpletons, using invalid anologies to frighten and scare children.

Emotion, counterfitting Understanding, is the Reason, the answer you seek.

Peyton   August 31st, 2008 6:38 am ET

To Misty's comment "Why is that every tiime someone wants to save a species, or save the enviroment they are called environmental wackos??".

Because most have the environmentalists are thinking in extremes for their point of view (the same way that the shippers are thinking about theirs).


Why are their only 300 whales left?... are you telling me that the entire population were hit by ships? There aren't too many creatures that wouldn't get out of the way. Something else has to be contributing the this dillema.

How about a speed limit until we can figure out what is really wrong? Maybe that would encourage the shipping companies to help (give money) with the research.

You can't save everything. Historically speaking that's not the way the game is played. Figure out which species WE are killing and stop doing that.

Franko   August 31st, 2008 11:44 am ET

"Why are their only 300 whales left?"
10,000 down South. Last estimated interbreeding one million years ago. North Atlantic and North Pacific are North Passage isolated. Transport a few either way, to increase genetic diversity ?

Domesticated land Cows, large numbers, now domesticate the Right Cows.

Simon520   September 1st, 2008 1:20 am ET

You only want to protect the cute lovable species. Whatever happened to protecting the smallpox virus? It exists only in labs because we wiped it out- yet I don't hear the Environmental lobby up in arms because of it.

Most species that have ever existed in this world have become extinct. If the whale is too stupid to move out of the way of a container ship carrying my refrigerated load of antiviral medication, then so be it. Darwin would be proud.

Maybe the true, dyed in the wool environmentalists should pull a Tianenmen square and jump in the water in front of a container ship.

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