The vast majority of ships are speeding into areas designated for the protection of the North Atlantic right whales, a species on the brink of extinction.
“Ships are speeding up, North Atlantic right whales are dying and those responsible are not being held accountable enough,” said Whitney Webber, campaign manager for the NGO Oceana.
The NGO analyzed the speeds of ships and boats between 2017 and 2020 in the areas established by the United States Agency for Oceanic and Atmospheric Observation (NOAA), along the Atlantic coast of the North American nation.
Non-compliance with the limits reached almost 90% in areas with mandatory speed reduction, while non-cooperation was close to 85% in areas where reduction was optional.
Ship collisions are one of the two leading causes of North Atlantic right whale injury and death. Research has shown that reducing the speed of ships to 10 knots (18.5 km / h) reduces the risk of death by 80-90%.
The analysis was based on speed and location data collected by Global Fishing Watch, an NGO founded by Oceana in partnership with Google and SkyTruth.
Two-thirds of the speeding ships were flying foreign flags, while freighters were the main culprits for negligence.
The study focused on boats of 20 meters or more, since they must transmit their position continuously. But smaller boats can also be fatal to whales.