Tue., July 23, 2013 2:00pm (EDT)

Whale Advocates Push For Slow Ships
By Orlando Montoya and Larissa Allen
Updated: 9 months ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Advocates for endangered whales want officials to extend ship speed limits. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration started enforcing ship speed rules five-years-ago.  And since then no whales have died from ship strikes.  But the limits end in December and NOAA wants to make them permanent. (photo by Koets)
Advocates for endangered whales want officials to extend ship speed limits. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration started enforcing ship speed rules five-years-ago. And since then no whales have died from ship strikes. But the limits end in December and NOAA wants to make them permanent. (photo by Koets)
Advocates for endangered whales want ships along the East Coast to keep to their slow speeds.

They're pushing federal officials to extend a rule setting speed limits during whale migration periods.

Right whales are highly endangered and vulnerable to ship strikes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration created rules five-years-ago that reduced the speed limit for ocean-going vessels.

Officials say there have been no ship-whale strike deaths since then.

But the rules are ending in December.

NOAA wants to make them permanent.

Maris Sidenstezcker of Save the Whales says the slow speeds are critically important for the species.

"There are only a few hundred of them left," says Sidenstezcker. "So if one of these whales, and especially a female, is hit by a boat and killed it's extremely detrimental for the population."

Cole Cosgrove of the Jacksonville based Crowley Maritime company says the industry in general supports the rules but they do cost money.

"If you have a very tight schedule and if it's right down to the minute you would have to make up that time at the other end," says Cosgrove. "So, the cost would be in fuel. An additional hour would be several thousand dollars."

NOAA is taking comments on the proposed rule extension until August 6th.