• December 22, 2009

On December 9, 2008, a new regulation to reduce the likelihood of ship strikes against migrating right whales in the North Atlantic will go into effect. Northern right whales—one of the most endangered types of large whale in the world—migrate from their calving grounds in Florida and Georgia to their primary feeding ground and nursery near Cape Cod and southern Maine. They may not be hunted and killed, but some die when struck by ships or when they become entangled in fishing gear.

The new regulation limits the speed of large ships within 20 miles of the shore to 10 knots. The effective period of the restrictions varies by location, but will be in place along most of the U.S. East Coast between November and April, the months when whales are most likely to be present.

Working for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NFMS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Nathan Associates conducted the economic analysis necessary for passage of the regulation. We estimated that the total impact of limiting vessels to 10 knots or less to be $137 million: $70 million incurred directly by shipping vessels and $17 million by other vessels, such as passenger ferries, commercial fishing vessels, and whale watching vessels. The estimated indirect economic impact due to port diversions is $49.7 million. We also estimated the economic impact for alternative speed restrictions of 12 and 14 knots, for alternative effective distances offshore, and for different periods of the year by location.

Our detailed report is available at the NOAA website under “Economic Analysis for the FEIS.”

Return to news