NOAA, USCG Provide Commercial Mariners with Guide to Right Whale Protection

Monday, June 18, 2007
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service and the U.S. Coast Guard announce the availability of "A Prudent Mariner's Guide to Right Whale Protection" - an interactive, multi-media CD program that serves as a guide and voluntary training resource for commercial mariners operating in right whale habitats along the U.S. Atlantic coast.

The CD, distributed free-of-charge upon request, provides a comprehensive collection of right whale information delivered in a compact and user-friendly format. The program includes: crew training information about right whales, recommended navigational actions when operating in right whale habitat, a guide to reporting sightings of dead or injured right whales, an informative video presentation, and a short follow-up quiz. It also provides guidelines for compliance with the Mandatory Ship Reporting Systems, including an innovative, interactive report generation program, as well as key supplementary information contained in a separate "Media" folder, such as video clips, information about the current Mandatory Ship Reporting areas, and diagrams of the recently implemented, recommended traffic lanes in right whale high-use areas.

NOAA Fisheries, in collaboration with the Coast Guard and a number of other partners, developed the CD program and is currently targeting shipping companies and vessel operators who plan to ensure the CDs are delivered directly to vessels and included in bridge management training. On May 28, the CD was presented and well received at the annual International Whaling Commission meeting held in Anchorage, Alaska. In addition, after two announcements of availability in the Northeast and Southeast U.S., commercial mariners requested more than 380 copies during the first 24 hours - a tremendous response that pleased NOAA Fisheries and its partners.

Ship strikes account for more right whale deaths and serious injuries than any other single human impact, and are considered the most significant threat to the recovery of the population. With as few as 300 remaining, North Atlantic right whales are among the most endangered marine mammal populations in the world. This species is protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. NOAA Fisheries Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources and their habitats through scientific research, management, and enforcement. NOAA Fisheries Service provides effective stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation, supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public. In 2007 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

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