Saturday, October 19, 2013

Slow Steaming Obligatory, and not just for Container Shipping, when Whales are about

Right Time of the Year to Avoid a Collision
Shipping News Feature

US – Any proposals for slow steaming as generally undertaken by container vessels these days will suit officials of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) whose role can be briefly described as the protection of natural resources and the environment. With the right whale migration and calving season about to start, a 10 knot speed limit is about to be imposed along specific areas of the Atlantic seaboard on all sizeable shipping.

The North Atlantic Right whale is now one of the most endangered species on our planet. Only around 450 specimens survive, and the mortality rate caused by ship strikes may be enough to tip the balance against these magnificent creatures. For this reason the speed limit applies between November 15 and April 15 in the areas south of Savannah, Georgia to south of Port Canaveral, Florida as detailed on the map of the south east Seasonal Management Area HERE.

Shipping in the region is advised to use the four approved two way routes and full details of relevant links and current advice can be seen HERE where reports of sightings, or indeed collisions (strikes) can be recorded. In addition to the speed restrictions, vessels of 300 gross tonnes or greater operating into the ports of Brunswick, Fernandina and Jacksonville must also comply with the Mandatory Ship Reporting System.

Mid Atlantic coast ports will see an even longer season where the speed limit applies from November 1 and will remain in place through to April 30 2014. This Mid-Atlantic Seasonal Management Area stretches from Long Island Sound to Savannah and the NOAA has issued a short video to drum home the importance of keeping a weather eye out for Right whales in the area.

Photo: Right whale with calf. Courtesy of NOAA.