Feds deny emergency call to slow ships, ease whale strikes

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The U.S. government has denied a request from a group of environmental organizations to immediately apply proposed ship-speed restrictions in an effort to save a vanishing species of whale. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is considering new rules designed to stop large ships from colliding with North Atlantic right whales. The whales number less than 340, and they are vulnerable to ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. The environmental groups had asked NOAA to swiftly implement pieces of the proposed rule that would aid the whales this winter and spring, when the whales travel from their calving grounds off the southern states to feeding grounds off New England and Canada.