Threats to whales include entanglement in fishing gear, vessel strikes, and impacts from climate change that change the ocean habitat, their migratory patterns, and location and availability of their prey. NOAA Fisheries’ North Atlantic Right Whale Road to Recovery describes efforts to halt the current population decline and recover the species.
NOAA proposed changes to federal vessel speed regulations to reduce the likelihood of right whale deaths and serious injuries that result from collisions with vessels. The changes expand the current mandatory seasonal speed restrictions of 10 knots or less in designated ocean areas and now include most vessels measuring 35 to 65 feet in length. They also broaden the spatial boundaries and timing of the seasonal speed restriction areas.
The comment period for the proposed rule is open through September 30, 2022. NOAA will conduct three informational webinars on these proposed changes. a webinar will be held on August 24, 2022, 6:00-7:30 PM (ET) (register here).
You may submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Enter NOAA-NMFS-2022-0022 in the search box to comment on the proposed rule.
NOAA also released its draft Ropeless Roadmap: A Strategy to Develop On-Demand Fishing for public input. The report describes the current state of on-demand, or “ropeless,” fishing and outlines a path for increasing adoption of this technology in commercial fisheries in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. NOAA is seeking comments on the draft report and they can be submitted using the online form. For more details on these efforts, visit NOAA’s website.