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Rep. Tom Allen Announces Ship Strike Reduction Rule to Protect North Atlantic Right Whales

Press Release

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Location: Portland, ME

"The North Atlantic Right Whale is among the most endangered animals in the world and today's ruling goes a long way in protecting the whales in their natural habitat"

Portland, ME (Wednesday, October 8, 2008)—U.S. Representative Tom Allen today announced that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a new regulation that will protect endangered North Atlantic Right Whales. The ruling implements speed restrictions where the right whales feed and reproduce as well as along migratory routes.

"In March 2008, I introduced a bill to require the Office of Management and Budget to release this rule that the Bush Administration had needlessly delayed for more than a year to protect the interest of shippers while placing ineffective, yet costly regulations on hardworking lobstermen. I am pleased that OMB finally released the rule," said Rep. Allen. "Collisions with ships have been the most common human-related cause of right whale deaths, and today's ruling ensures that all parties, not just lobstermen, are working hard to conserve our natural resources."

The rule, which will go into effect in early December, is part of NOAA's broader ship strike reduction efforts. Existing protective actions include surveying whale migration routes by aircraft and mandatory ship reporting systems that provide advisories and information on right whale locations to mariners.

"I have long supported efforts to recover right whales. In 2002, I led the fight to protect whales from Department of Defense exemptions to the Marine Mammal Protection Act," said Rep. Allen. "With only about 350 animals left in existence, the North Atlantic Right Whale is among the most endangered animals in the world and today's ruling goes a long way in protecting the whales in their natural habitat."

The species makes its home exclusively in the waters off the United States and Canada and was originally decimated by the whaling that helped support the economies of these countries at the turn of the last century. Although now protected by both the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, steps taken by the Administration to address the species' recovery have fallen short of what is needed.


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