Study: WhaleWatching Boats Often Ignore Speed Limits off Massachusetts Coast

SCITUATE, Mass., Nov. 5 (UPI) — A study of whale-watching boats visiting Stellwagen Bank from Massachusetts ports found all of them exceeding voluntary speed limits.

Undercover investigators were posted on boats in 2003 and 2004 for 46 trips, surreptitiously clocking the speed at 5-second intervals, the Gloucester Daily Times reported. The study was published last month in the Journal of Conservation and Biology.

“All boats were out of compliance every trip, the non-compliance rate was very high on every single trip,” David Wiley of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in Scituate, Mass., said. “In general if you have voluntary guidelines, they should be adhered to.”

Stellwagen Bank, an underwater plateau across the mouth of Massachusetts Bay, is famous for its marine life, especially the humpback whales that feed there in the summer. The bank is also crossed by commercial vessels and recreational boaters and visited by fishing boats and increasing numbers of whale-watching boats.

Federal laws ban boaters from harassing marine mammals, and the whale-watching industry adopted voluntary guidelines in 1999. Conservationists fear speeding vessels could hit whales.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Categorized | Conservation, Mammals
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