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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Politics, Common Sense, and Right Whales


The USA has finally stepped up to protect right whales. But what is happening in the Bay of Fundy, the summer home where more than 50 of these endangered species gather each year?

Whatever the reason ... the magic of politics, common sense, or reason, the stall that seemed to be on any attempt to protect Atlantic right whales appears to be over in the United States at least.

First, after much rangling and White House intervention, NOAA announced a new federally imposed speed limit on large ships which takes effect this December. It calls for ships over 65 feet in length to slow to 10 knots in areas as much as 20 miles offshore along the Eastern Seaboard or anywhere the whales congregate. More ...

And now federal officials from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are requiring the developers of the proposed Weaver's Cove liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal to explain how they would mitigate the threat LNG tankers would pose to North Atlantic right whales. In a ruling dated Oct. 21, FERC gave Weaver’s Cove Energy, a subsidiary of the multinational oil giant Hess Corp., 30 days to file information about how it would reduce the threat the ships would pose to right whales and other protected marine species.  More ...

Add to this the acoustic monitoring work coming from Cornell University and the future looks a little brighter for the 300 odd animals left on this planet. Hopefully Canada can follow the US lead on this to ensure  adequate protection from the growth of "Fundy Superport" and and the other challenges that arise from proposals that pop up continuously in Fundy coastal locations such as Passamaquoddy Bay.

Art MacKay

NOAA Photo

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