[MARMAM] New publication about North Atlantic right whales

Amy Knowlton aknowlton at neaq.org
Fri Mar 7 14:50:33 PST 2014


The authors of the following article are pleased to announce a new paper providing evidence that speed restrictions implemented in 2008 to reduce vessel related deaths of North Atlantic right whales along the East Coast of the United States have been effective.

 

Laist, D.W, A.R. Knowlton, and D. Pendleton.  2014.  Effectiveness of mandatory vessel speed limits for protecting North Atlantic right whales.  Endangered Species Research 23(2): 133-147.  http://www.int-res.com/articles/esr_oa/n023p133.pdf

 

 

ABSTRACT: To reduce right whale Eubalaena glacialis deaths caused by ship collisions along the

US East Coast, a rule was implemented on 8 December 2008 requiring all vessels ≥65 feet (19.8 m)

to travel 10 knots (18.5 km h−1) or less in 10 seasonal management areas (SMAs). To evaluate the

effectiveness of this rule, we plotted the locations of all right whale and humpback whale

Megaptera novaeangliae carcasses attributed to ship-strikes since December 1990 in US waters to

determine their proximity to SMAs. In the 18 yr pre-rule period, 13 of 15 (87%) right whales and

12 of 26 (46%) humpback whales killed by ships were found inside later SMA boundaries or

within 45 nmi (83 km) of their perimeters during later active dates. In the first 5 yr after the rule

became effective, no ship-struck right whales were found inside or within 45 nmi of any active

SMA. This was nearly twice as long as the longest pre-rule period without discovery of a ship-struck

carcass in those areas during effective time periods. Based on the 18 yr pre-rule period, bootstrap

resampling analyses revealed that the probability of finding no ship-struck whales in or near

SMAs during the first 5 yr post-rule period would be a statistically significant reduction in such

deaths (p = 0.031). The results suggest the rule has been effective at reducing right whale deaths.

We suggest enlarging SMAs to include additional parts of the right whale migratory corridor.

 

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