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The Right to Kill Whales With Boats

North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) off Grand Manan Island, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada.

The North Atlantic right whale is very close to extinction. It wouldn’t really be that hard to save them. But you see, industry:

An endangered North Atlantic right whale calf suffered potentially fatal injuries after an apparent collision with a vessel off Edisto Island, South Carolina, federal officials said Wednesday. 

The calf was spotted Jan. 3, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries division reported. 

“Videos shared by the public on social media show several propeller wounds on the head, mouth and left lip of the calf consistent with a vessel strike,” NOAA said in an announcement Wednesday. “These injuries may impact this calf’s ability to nurse successfully.” 

The incident comes as NOAA considers expanding seasonal offshore speed restrictions for vessels aimed at protecting right whales in their annual birthing area along the Southeast coast.  


Opponents of the proposed 35-foot standard for in-season speed limits include the Georgia Ports Authority, which argues that they would make “river pilot” boats unsafe. 

In Savannah, the pilots steer cargo ships along the potentially precarious 25-mile river route from the Atlantic Ocean to the port. But to do that, they need to get to and from the vessels when they’re still at sea.  

That means cruising through the whale conservation zones, where the proposed 10-knot limit would apply to boats designed to cruise at twice that speed, said Jamie McCurry, GPA’s chief administrative officer.   

“Going slower makes them unstable, especially in rough seas,” he explained.  

The pilots, experts in the intricacies of navigating rivers leading to the ports, are considered an irreplaceable element in the operation of GPA facilities.  

“NOAA’s proposed rule change would carry with it increased safety risk to vessels and crew during inclement weather – including the possibility cargo ships could be blown off course,” McCurry said. “This increased risk would have prudent river pilots delaying vessel transits, leading to ships anchoring offshore for extended periods or skipping calls along much of the East Coast in favor of longer, less efficient and more costly routes.” 

But Oceana’s Brogan countered that situational safety exceptions included in the proposed updates fully address GPA’s concerns. 

“With this improved nuance to the rule that provides for rough weather and other conditions, blanket exemptions and exceptions are not warranted and (would) undermine the intended positive outcomes of the new rule,” he explained. 

As for the recently observed calf, NOAA Fisheries biologists made a preliminary determination that it meets the criteria of a “serious injury.”

“This means the whale is likely to die as a result,” the agency said. “We will continue to work with authorized responders to monitor this calf and further document its injuries.”

Given that industry has opposed basically every environmental regulation that has ever existed, it’s hard to take this too seriously. I am sure that there are plenty of ways to make adjustments to make both boats and whales safe. But, well, we all know what the Six Extremist Rulers are going to do to the regulatory state this year, so I guess we might as well just go back to killing the whales for oil! MAGA!

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