AOML
NOAA

Oceans and Ecosystems

Mandatory Ship Reporting System - MSR

Mandatory Ship Reporting System - MSR

A North Atlantic right whale conservation effort


Collisions with ships (or "strikes") are a major source of injury and death for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. In an effort to reduce the number of ship strikes, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) developed and implemented Mandatory Ship Reporting systems (MSR). The systems were endorsed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized organization of the United Nations.

The MSR was formally adopted through IMO Resolution A.858(20) in December, 1998, and implemented by a USCG Federal Register notice (66 FR 58066). The systems commenced operation on 1 July 1999. All commercial vessels 300 gross tons and greater are required to report to a shore-based station when entering two designated report areas including waters: (1) of Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts Bay, the Great South Channel, and the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary; and (2) along the coast near the Florida/Georgia border. Reporting ships are required to provide their time and location of entry into the system, speed, and destination -- no other aspect of navigation is affected. In return, the ship receives an automated message that provides additional information on how mariners can reduce the likelihood of whale strikes, including recent right whale sighting locations.

Summarized information gathered via the MSR includes ship traffic volumes, routes, and ports of call and assists in tailoring any necessary future ship strike reduction measures.

The MSR is jointly operated and funded by the USCG and NOAA Fisheries, with assistance from NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory that provides technical support by hosting the software engine, storing and parsing data, and generating statistics on compliance with the MSR.

Please visit the MSR NMFS website for more information.

On the (left) North Atlantic Right Whale with calf, (center) Whales North area, and (right) Whales South area