White House considers whale protections

The White House is reviewing a rule that would make protections for an endangered whale species permanent.

The Office of Management and Budget received the rule Monday. It would restrict ships in designated areas along the Eastern Seaboard from traveling over 10 knots — or 11.5 miles per hour — to prevent collisions with the North Atlantic right whale.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) there are about 400 right whales left in the wild. 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. The protections are set to expire in December.

During a meeting with the White House back in April, animal rights groups put pressure on the administration to keep the ship rules in place.

“I made it known to officials that, according to NOAA's own data, shipping delays resulting from the rule have merely ranged from only 2 to 36 minutes," said Regina Asmutis-Silvia, the executive director of Whale and Dolphin Conservation North America, in a statement. “Data conclusively shows that the rule is working and needs additional time in place to allow North Atlantic right whales the time required to recover.”