Marine Mammal Commission

Federal Agency Approaches to Reducing Vessel Strike of Cetaceans

Meeting of the Marine Mammal Commission and Committee of Scientific Advisors on Marine Mammals

Federal Agency Approaches to Reducing Vessel Strike of Cetaceans

April 12, 2022

The webinar was recorded and is available for viewing here.

Meeting Format:

This meeting is conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Government in the Sunshine Act and the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

Objective: The Commission and Committee of Scientific Advisors will meet to consider actions for reducing vessel strike of large cetaceans. Specifically, meeting  participants will review Federal vessel-routing and speed-reduction programs, their elements and effectiveness, identify locations where additional measures are or may be needed, and consider recommendations for next steps. To view the agenda, click here.

Presenter Biographies


Welcome and Commission Business – Daryl Boness, Commission Chairman, Marine Mammal Commission

North Atlantic right whale in the vicinity of a large vessel (New England Aquarium)

North Atlantic right whale in the vicinity of a large vessel (New England Aquarium)

Introduction and Overview of Vessel Strikes to Large Cetaceans – Frances Gulland, Commissioner, Marine Mammal Commission & UC Davis

Large Whale Vessel Strike Mitigation Efforts: Progress and Lessons Learned – Caroline Good, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)

Vessel/Whale Strike Reduction: United States Coast Guard – Ready, Relevant, ResponsiveKatie Moore, United States Coast Guard (USCG)

Whale Strike Research and Mitigation Efforts: Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Dave Wiley, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Voluntary Vessel Speed Reduction (VSR) in California National Marine SanctuariesMichael Carver, Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries & Sean Hastings, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

Whale Strike Avoidance in Southeastern Alaska: Charting a Course for the FutureChris Gabriele, Glacier Bay National Park

Panel Discussion – question and answer, major findings, and next steps

For more information, contact Brady O’Donnell ( or Hannah Wellman (


Commission Letters

March 26, 2021 – Letter to National Marine Fisheries Service’s North Atlantic right whale vessel speed rule assessment.


2021-22 Greater Farallones & Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries Advisory Councils Joint Ship Strike Working Group: Final Report.

Gende S.M., Vose L., Baken J., Gabriele C.M., Preston R., and Hendrix A.N. 2019. Active Whale Avoidance by Large Ships: Components and Constraints of a Complementary Approach to Reducing Ship Strike Risk. Frontiers in Marine Science 6:592.

Morten J., Freedman R., Adams J.D., Wilson J., Rubinstein A., Hastings S. 2022. Evaluating Adherence With Voluntary Slow Speed Initiatives to Protect Endangered Whales. Frontiers in Marine Science 9:833206.

Owen K., Saeki K., Warren J.D., et al. 2021. Natural dimethyl sulfide gradients would lead marine predators to higher prey biomass. Communications Biology 4.

Parks S.E., Warren J.D., Stamieszkin K., Mayo C.A., and Wiley, D. 2011. Dangerous dining: surface foraging of North Atlantic right whales increases risk of vessel collisions. Biology Letters 8:57-60.

Silva T.L., Wiley D.N., and Fay G. 2021. A hierarchical modelling approach to estimating humpback whale abundance from sand lance abundance. Ecological Modelling 456.

Silva T.L., Wiley D.N., Thompson M.A., et al. 2021. High collocation of sand lance and protected top predators: Implications for conservation and management. Conservation Science and Practice 3:e274.

Wiley D.N., Mayo C.A., Maloney E.M., and Moore, M.J. 2016. Vessel strike mitigation lessons from direct observations involving two collisions between noncommercial vessels and North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis). Marine Mammal Science 32: 1501-1509.

Wiley D.N., Thompson M., Pace R.M., and Levenson J. 2011. Modeling speed restrictions to mitigate lethal collisions between ships and whales in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, USA. Biological Conservation 144(9):2377-2381.

Web Resources

Using Whale Alert in Southeast Alaska: Creating Safe Waters for Both Mariners and Whales

“5 things you can do to reduce the risk of a whale strike.” (NOAA)

All Boaters Should Reduce Their Speed to Protect North Atlantic Right Whales (NOAA)

Public Comments Received on the North Atlantic Right Whale Speed Rule (NOAA)

North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) Vessel Speed Rule Assessment (NOAA)

Reducing Vessel Strikes to North Atlantic Right Whales (NOAA)

Go Slow — Whales Below (NOAA)

Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies website

Visualizations of tagged North Atlantic right whales and vessel traffic off Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coasts (tag and vessel traffic data from January 2015) TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Visualizations of tagged North Atlantic right whales and vessel traffic off Mid-Atlantic coast (tag and vessel traffic data from March 2021) TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.