Would it be of interest to anyone that while requiring commercial shipping to slow down for right whales, Uncle Sam chooses to ignore and exempt vessels working on a federal contract from being subject to the aforementioned regulations? In early January I had a conversation with a self propelled dredge. I had noticed his speed was well over the 10 knot limit (13.4knots) for the Ambrose Seasonal Management Area and called to inquire if he was aware of the SMA (seasonal management area). We switched to a side channel and I was told (I assume it was the captain) that the dredge was exempt from the requirement because they were working under the auspices of a federal contract…..
Now if this was a warship, I would not have asked (they have guns). If it was a NOAA research vessel I might have asked (they don’t). But it was a dredge, what claim could he make that he needed to maintain his speed? Is his contract so time sensitive that he needs to “make all speed” in order to comply with time constraints? Is there a fast building Al–Qaeda backed rogue shoal about to block access to New York Harbor? It couldn’t wait the extra 35 minutes for the guy to slow down and reduce risk to a species that ‘s on its last gasp? Really?
On other tugs I’ve run I’ve never really had to worry about slowing down to 10 knots because I was lucky if I could make 9. But these days the boat I’m on can easily maintain 11 plus knots and rather than hurt something or incur a huge fine, I slow down. The SMA is only 20 miles deep at the entrance to New York Harbor so we lose about 15 minutes, it’s not a big deal. I save a little fuel and I get to be part of the solution to protect a species at risk. For him it would have amounted to an extra 35-40 minutes? So maybe Uncle Sam could get its contractors to obey the rules like the rest of us?