The Sky Is Not Falling: Adapt To Speed Restrictions For Right Whales

Toby Sackton •

To the editor: I was surprised to see the sky is falling reaction of Murray Scudder, president of Hy-Line Cruises, and the desperate lobbying of the Steamship Authority over proposed NOAA speed rules.

Lobster fishermen have already made huge sacrifices to protect right whales. Not only are some fishing areas closed, but a proposed requirement to change gear and the types of ropes in the water is moving forward. This will cost each fisherman thousands of dollars.

I can’t see why Nantucket’s ferries can’t compromise as well. Yes, obviously a 10-knot speed limit from November to April is burdensome. But there are ways to mitigate it.

We are not talking about the whole ocean, just Nantucket Sound. Even in the Sound, we are talking about the Hyannis-Nantucket route. Instead of crying wolf about shutting down, the ferry operators could make constructive suggestions.

Nantucket Sound is small enough so that a sonar buoy array could effectively monitor for right whales from November to April. Maybe the ferry operators should offer to pay for such monitoring and pledge to cancel ferries when right whales are detected in or near the Sound. They already cancel at the hint of a gale. Canceling for whales would not add much or a burden, if any.

My point is instead of exaggerating that this is the end of commerce on Nantucket, like Mr. Scudder did, he should get behind a constructive proposal that will help the right whales and keep the Hy-Line operating.

As someone with a lifelong career in the fishing industry, I am tired of seeing our industry bear the burden for conservation while others say its impossible.

Toby Sackton
Seasonal Resident
Hinckley Lane

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