Bush admin proposes scaling back speed-limit zone meant to protect right whales
On the same day that President Bush moved toward creation of marine sanctuaries in the Pacific, his administration proposed cutting by 10 nautical miles a speed-limit zone in the Atlantic meant to protect critically endangered right whales. The proposal would cut the area covered by the speed zones to 20 nautical miles offshore from the original 30; ship collisions are the most common cause of death for the 300 or so North Atlantic right whales that comprise the world’s entire remaining population. The speed zones would be the first to take effect on behalf of wildlife on the East Coast and would be in force each year during the whale’s annual migration, requiring ships to slow to 10 knots. Environmentalists and wildlife advocates have decried the weakened proposal, arguing that the right whale is so extremely endangered that any dip in protections could push them into extinction. The shipping industry has strongly opposed speed zones of any size, arguing that time is money in the shipping industry. A speed-limit zone on behalf of right whales was first proposed in 2006.