350 - 03/04 - Claims for Non-Compliance with the Northern Right Whale Mandatory Ship Reporting System - USA

We have been advised of a recent case where the US Coast Guard cited a ship transiting a ‘Right Whale’ critical habitat without the ship concerned reporting this movement which contravenes the regulation concerning the ‘Northern Right Whale Mandatory Ship Reporting System’. The Coast Guard has demanded a $32,000 guarantee - although at the present time the amount of the fine is yet undetermined as the regulation does not set out a particular fine amount.

The ‘Northern Right Whale Mandatory Ship Reporting System’ was adopted by IMO in December 1998 and under this system, any commercial vessel of 300 GT or greater must report to the Coast Guard's Communications Area Master Station Atlantic (CAMSLANT) prior to entering a ‘Right Whale’ critical habitat providing the ships position, course, speed, destination and route to the next port. The purpose of this is to make mariners aware of the existence of the endangered Right Whale habitats. 

There are two special Right Whale zones on the east coast of the US. The northeast area ‘Whalenorth’ includes the waters of Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts Bay and the Great South Channel east and southeast of Massachusetts. The southeast area ‘Whalesouth’ is located off the east coast of Florida and Georgia, which includes coastal waters within approx 25 nautical miles along a 90 nautical mile stretch of the coast, which includes in the zone the ports of Brunswick in Georgia and Jacksonville and Fernandina in Florida.   

We would like to advise Members that the Coast Guard has actively started to enforce this regulation and ships failing to provide these reports are now subject to fines.

Source of information: 

Phillip A. Buhler

Moseley, Warren, Prichard & Parrish

Club Correspondents   

Jacksonville, Florida USA

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