The Right Whale Ship Strike Reduction Rule took effect Nov. 1, requiring vessels to slow down while operating in the mid-Atlantic waters where North Atlantic right whales are known to migrate, calve and nurse.
"The Coast Guard, in coordination with [the National Marine Fisheries Service], has a long history of protecting living marine resources and will continue to take action to protect the right whale from ship strikes and other threats," said Steven Tucker, the U.S. Coast Guard's deputy chief of Marine Protected Species Enforcement, in a statement. "Key among those measures is Coast Guard communication with mariners in areas where right whales congregate or transit."
The speed restrictions will be in effect in coastal waters from Rhode Island to Georgia through April 30.
Protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, the North Atlantic right whale is one of world's rarest animals, with approximately 400 individuals in its entire population.