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Contact: Allison Banks, Public Information Officer, 907-697-2230
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Superintendent Cherry Payne announced today that the 13-knot speed limit and mid-channel course requirement for vessels traveling in all Park waters is hereby cancelled. The number of humpback whales sighted in Glacier Bay has diminished to the point that these vessel operating restrictions are no longer needed. The speed and course restrictions are cancelled as of noon on October 20, 2008.
Although Park managers do not anticipate implementing additional vessel restrictions this fall, boaters are advised to verify whale waters designations prior to entering Glacier Bay by telephoning (907) 697-2627 or by contacting KWM20 Bartlett Cove on marine VHF radio. Speed and course restrictions in whale waters are intended to reduce the disruption of feeding humpback whales and to lower the risk of whale/vessel collisions. Speed restrictions in Park whale waters are consistent with NOAA Fisheries regulations in Alaska requiring boaters to maintain a slow, safe speed when near a humpback whale. Year-round, in all Park waters, vessels are prohibited from operating within ¼ nautical mile of a humpback whale. Vessels positioned within ½ nautical mile of a humpback whale are also prohibited from altering their course or speed in a manner that results in decreasing the distance between the whale and the vessel. If accidentally positioned within ¼-mile of a whale, vessel operators must slow immediately to 10 knots or less and steer the vessel on a steady course away from the whale until their vessel is at least ¼-mile from the whale.