The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this week fined seven vessels for violating seasonal speed limits designed to protect the North Atlantic right whale, one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world.
The fines are the first since a right whale rule went into effect in Dec. 2008 to protect the 350 North Atlantic right whales left in the world. The rules requires vessels 65 feet or greater to speeds of 10 knots or less in certain areas at certain times of the year.
The fines, ranging from $16,500 to $49,500, were for vessels that allegedly traveled multiple times through the areas at speeds higher than those allowed.
“Right whales are a highly endangered and important species,” said special agent Stuart Cory, the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement national program manager for protected resources. “It is important to remind those that use and share the same habitat as right whales that this rule was put into place to protect these mammals.”
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