Whale safe zones may shrink

From Times Wire Reports

The Bush administration proposed scaling back protected zones for endangered whales in the Atlantic Ocean.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's proposal could end more than a year of wrangling between federal fisheries scientists and the White House over new measures to protect the North Atlantic right whale. About 300 of the whales remain, and researchers say their tiny population has been reduced by fatal collisions with large ships.

In July 2006, NOAA had announced plans to create 30-nautical-mile buffer zones off several East Coast ports, in which ships would be required to slow to 10 nautical mph during certain times of the year. But cargo companies complained and the administration held up the proposal.

NOAA said its new plan would reduce the buffer zone to 20 nautical miles.

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