Wednesday, November 29, 2006
New Ship Routes Recommended to Avoid Endangered Whales WASHINGTON, DC, November 27, 2006 (ENS) - To lower the chance of shipstrikes with endangered right whales, the National Oceanic and AtmosphericAdministration, NOAA, is urging ship captains to use new recommended routeswhen entering or leaving a number of east coast ports. The new guidance applies to the Florida ports of Jacksonville andFernandina, and Brunswick, Georgia, as well as in Cape Cod Bay offMassachusetts. NOAA says the recommended routes take into account safety and economicimpact to the mariner. Although the routes are voluntary, they will appear on both electronic andpaper NOAA nautical charts no later than November 30. The new designations will help mariners decrease whale strikes by reducingvessel activity in areas frequented by ships and whales. "This is an important part of our ship strike reduction strategy forcritically endangered right whales," said Bill Hogarth, director of the NOAAFisheries Service. "Mariners need to be aware of these voluntary routes before the wintercalving season when pregnant females and females with calves migrate towaters off of Florida and Georgia. With a population so low, even one whaledeath can set back recovery efforts dramatically." North Atlantic right whales are among the most endangered marine mammalpopulations in the world and are highly vulnerable to ship collisions.