A 2021 NOAA report flagged failure to comply with vessel speed limits as a major risk to the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale population which numbers around just 400. These whales can range from 45 to 55 feet long and weigh 70 tons.
According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a non-profit advocacy group, federal regulators have failed to “implemented decisive measures” necessary to protect them “due in part to fishing industry opposition.”
“Due to a combination of increasing coastal ship traffic, smaller crew size, bigger vessels and faster speeds, fatal collisions between ships and whales are on the rise,” according to PEER. “Federal agencies are resisting actions designed to protect whales from collisions with ships. As a result, fatal ship strikes on whales are becoming a leading threat to survival. Deafening underwater noise levels also prevent whales from hearing approaching propellers.”