Jaxport carriers concerned about proposed whale rule
Steamship lines calling the Port of Jacksonville are concerned about a proposed new rule that would require their vessels to come into the port at lower speeds as a safeguard against hitting a rare species of whale.
The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed a rule that would require vessels in specific shipping channels at the entrance to the St. Johns River to speeds of 10 knots, down from the current 13 knot to 18 knot speeds of commercial vessels, according to a report in The Florida Times-Union. That is a concern to shipping lines because at the slower speed, there is an increased chance that winds or currents could make a vessel go slightly off course, possibly leading to a mishap such as a vessel being grounded on the side of the channel.
The comment period on the NOAA proposal ended Thursday and steamship lines have expressed their concerns. The NOAA said most of the comments submitted came from environmental groups, including a large number of form letters from environmental groups and individuals supporting the new rule.
The proposal is intended to help protect right whales, a rare species with a total population of about 300 worldwide. The species has a calving area 'miles from the shore,' the report said, but environmentalists are concerned large vessels might hit a whale at the entrance to the river, where the whales are occasionally spotted.