September 25, 2007 – The Center petitioned the federal government to set speed limits for ships in California's Santa Barbara Channel to protect endangered blue whales from deadly ship strikes.

June 18, 2008 – The Center filed a lawsuit against the Coast Guard for failing to comply with the Endangered Species Act by not taking steps to reduce ship strikes between California-bound vessels and blue whales.

January 6, 2009 – Florida's Lee County led the state in boat-related manatee deaths, with at least 90 animals killed in 2008 as a direct result of boat strikes.

June 15, 2009 – As part of a Center lawsuit settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced new population assessments for manatees. The report found that an unsustainable number of manatees are killed each year, with 90 percent of the deaths resulting from boat collisions.

August 25, 2008 – The National Marine and Fisheries Service proposed speed and path restrictions for sea-faring vessels in an effort to protect the North Atlantic right whale from deadly ship-strike accidents. 

September 16, 2009 – The Center filed a petition to expand critical habitat protections for the North Atlantic right whale; if granted, the protections would provide additional opportunities to limit ship strikes.

November 19, 2009 – The Center, along with several other conservation groups represented by the Environmental Defense Center, joined a notice of intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service for its failure to implement the blue whale's Endangered Species Act recovery plan. The plan mandates that the Fisheries Service must take steps to reduce or eliminate blue whale mortalities from ship strikes.

April 7, 2010 – In response to the Coast Guard's announcement that it was conducting a new Port Access Route Study to consider modifying existing shipping lanes through the Santa Barbara Channel, the Center and allies urged the agency to ensure that any measures it ultimately enacts provide full protection to endangered whales from the threat of ship strikes.

June 6, 2011 – The Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Defense Center, Pacific Environment and Friends of the Earth filed a petition seeking a 10-knots-per-hour limit for ships in marine sanctuaries in California waters.

June 28, 2012 – The Center and allies filed a legal petition seeking additional ship speed limits in North Atlantic right whale habitat. The petition asked the National Marine Fisheries Service to extend the existing 10-knot speed limit on the Atlantic coast beyond its December 2013 expiration date and to expand the areas and times when ship speed limits apply to avoid collisions that kill endangered whales.

June 5, 2013 – Following the Center's petition, a National Marine Fisheries Service proposal to keep existing speed limits along the U.S. East Coast to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales, extending the speed limit beyond its planned expiration date. The speed rule, which requires vessels 65 feet in length and greater to slow to 10 knots (about 11 miles per hour) in areas and at times when right whales are present, was set to expire December 2013.

December 6, 2013  The Fisheries Service finalized a rule making permanent existing speed limits for large ships along the U.S. East Coast to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.

Florida manatee photo © Carol Grant/