[North Atlantic right whales] are among the most endangered species on the planet, with only about 300 of them still alive. But a measure aimed at protecting them is snarled and stalled in bureaucracy. […]
That measure is a proposal from U.S. government scientists to require commercial ships to slow to 10 knots inside a 30-mile "bubble" near ports where and when these whales are migrating. […]
"We think that more animals are being killed than are being born, and there are a couple of main sources of human-caused mortality that we are trying to reduce," said Jim Lecky, director of the Office of Protected Resources at the National Marine Fisheries Service. […]
More than four years of NOAA research showed that speed kills whales. Above a speed of about 10 knots, a right whale's encounter with a large ship would probably be fatal. […]
Many in the shipping industry oppose the speed limit, saying it would be too costly. A federal study concluded that slowing the ships near the whales will cost shipping companies about $112 million, or less than 1 percent of the $340 billion East Coast shipping industry income."
The response of the shipping industry shows just how differently the two groups think:
The World Shipping Council, an industry group representing more than two dozen global shipping companies, filed documents with the U.S. federal government opposing the speed limits, saying the change would cause "significant economic costs."
The group even suggested that if large ships went faster through the whales' habitat, the chance of a collision would be lower.
"A quickly moving vessel will pass through the area quickly, and exposure will be small," the shipping council wrote in a document challenging the limits. "A slowly moving vessel will take longer to pass through the area, exposure will be greater, and the whale will have longer to surface or move in a way that increases jeopardy."
Possible solution: Sell the whales. The new (presumably collective) owners could charge shipping companies for damages done to their mammalian property. Demanding just enough to hurt the industry but not enough to cripple it would provide shipping companies with an incentive to slow-down while in the whale's habitats without bringing goverment penalties into the equation. In addition, the new owners of the whales would take on the responsibility of raising the necessary funds for tracking a pod, or even individual whales.
More reason ocean chatter.