The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association has partnered with US federal agencies to ensure whale safety.
New safety protocols put in place June 1 have resulted in modified shipping lanes near the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the Santa Barbara Channel and San Francisco Bay. Hundreds of freighters and commercial ships heading to ports in Southern California are now on altered routes through the Santa Barbara Channel to avoid striking whales. The changes are a result of data gathered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries, the U.S. Coast Guard and marine researchers along the West Coast.
“We share the seas with whales and other marine life and are fully committed to preventing further ship strikes,” John Berge, vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association said in a statement. “Until now, all we had to go on was survey data that is of limited utility in determining whale locations in real time. But under this cooperative new plan with our federal partners, ship captains and crews now can play a central role in helping to reduce the threat by reporting whale observations in near real time, which will inform risk-management strategies.”
The safety protocol includes regular flights over the Santa Barbara Channel to conduct surveys where shipping routes and migrating whales overlap. The flights are slated to continue through the end of the whale season in November.
Similar measures have been in place for some years for the approach to Boston Harbor. Cornell University scientists worked with industry to find the best shipping routes that would minimize proximity to the North Atlantic Right Whales.
In part from “The Orange County Register” (E. Ritchie)