Feds make whale protections permanent

The Obama administration is enacting permanent protections for an endangered whale species.

A new rule to be published next week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will enshrine restrictions on ships along the Eastern Seaboard.

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Ships in designated areas will be banned from traveling over 10 knots — or 11.5 miles per hour — to prevent collisions with the North Atlantic right whale.

The White House completed its final review of the rule on Thursday, and the final regulation will be published in the Federal Register early next week.

According to an early copy of the rule, the National Marine Fisheries Service will strike out the expiration date set for the end of this year that was included in the original regulation.

There are about 400 right whales left in the wild, NOAA said. The right whale is a slow-moving mammal that eats small organisms like krill through its open mouth, and females only reproduce every three to five years, with a gestation period of 12 months.

NOAA found that the estimated economic impacts are significantly less than what was originally expected after the rule passed in 2008.