Brevard County

Proposal to protect endangered whales could impact sailings from Port Canaveral

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — A proposal to protect an endangered whale species could impact ships sailing in and out of Port Canaveral.

The port could find itself in a seasonal right whale zone as soon as next year.


The new proposal would expand protections for the whale that are already in place. Earlier this month, NOAA National Marine Fisheries proposed modifying seasonal management areas along the U.S. East Coast to create seasonal speed zones to reduce the risk of deadly boat collisions with the endangered whales. If the rule passes, Port Canaveral would be in that management area.

The proposed rule covers most vessels equal to or greater than 35 feet and would restrict speeds to 10 knots, or 11 and half mph, from mid-November through mid-April beginning next year. The rule change could directly impact maneuverability and transit times at the port.

Read: Ships must slow down more often to save whales, feds say

“If you have a vessel over 35 feet long, and you exceed the 10 knots speed restriction in the right whale’s zone, you could be held criminally liable for violating the Endangered Species Act,” said Capt. Ben Borgie with the Canaveral Pilots Association.

The public has until the end of next month to provide comments to NOAA about the proposal.

Read: Close encounters: Whales land on, bump into boats in Massachusetts

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson,

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.