Stop Onslaught of Whale Deaths by Enforcing Speed Limits

Target: Richard Spinrad, Administrator of NOAA

Goal: Limit speeds and fishing nets that endanger and kill whales along North Atlantic coast.

Eight large whales, most of them humpback whales, were recently stranded on the shores of New Jersey and New York. An increasing number of whales have also died offshore in the area. Some politicians are blaming noise pollution from wind farm construction and are now calling for a pause on offshore wind farms. But are the concerns valid, or just another politically motivated attack on clean energy sources?

Political opponents of wind energy have tried to blame everything from large-scale power outages to cancer on the technology. And just like these other unsupported theories, no sizeable evidence suggests that wind farms are primarily linked to the recent spate of whale deaths. In fact, the uptick in these fatalities began before wind farms were even being constructed at a notable pace along the east coast.

What scientists have found, however, is a strong correlation between ship strikes and fishing net entanglements and whale deaths. A group dedicated to ocean conservation, for instance, reported that ships routinely bypass speed limits in federal waters along the eastern coast. Such findings prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to propose new speed restrictions in an effort to save another imperiled marine mammal: the North Atlantic right whale.

Clearly, more needs to be done. Sign the petition below to demand NOAA refocus its efforts on enacting speed limits and other protective actions and, more importantly, on enforcing these rules.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Dr. Spinrad,

The potential impact of offshore wind farms on whale deaths can and should be investigated, but these actions cannot take place at the expense of other measures that have much more scientific backing. Vessel strikes due to excessive ship speeds and fishing net catastrophes have caused tragedy not only for humpback whales but for North Atlantic right whales and so many more. NOAA’s proposal for stricter speed limits within federal waters should be enacted and strongly enforced.

Moreover, fishing vessels need to be held to more rigorous standards. Please address these issues that have been plaguing marine mammals for years with comprehensive plans of action.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Whit Welles


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