BLUE WHALE – BARBARA LACORTE, CHANNEL ISLAND NATURALISTS CORPS.
We drive our cars slow in school zones and in residential areas, so why can’t big ships slow down when they are in whale neighborhoods? A coalition of environmental groups are asking the federal government to mandate that vessels traveling through California’s four marine sanctuaries power down to 10-knots to avoid colliding with blue, humpback and fin whales.
Some freighters have been found to go twice that speed in these waters.
Fatal whale collisions have reached record highs and environmentalists say it’s time for ships to stop putting the pedal to the metal.
According to the LA Times:
…Nearly 50 whales have been hit by ships off the California coast in the last decade, according to experts, who believe the number is probably much higher because many accidents go unreported.
Shipping groups say a speed limit would greatly delay cargo reaching port and more than double the time it takes the fastest vessels to travel through the sanctuaries.
The petition from the environmental groups is meant to prod the federal government to take steps to deal with the growing concern. Some of the most heavily used shipping lanes in and out of ports in Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Francisco Bay run through the migratory paths and feeding areas of endangered whales.
California’s four National Marine Sanctuaries are located in the Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank.
Shipping groups aren’t so sure that lower speeds will make for a safer whale/ship encounter. They are considering realigning shipping routes as an alternative.
Mandatory speed limits are already the norm on the East Coast which is home to the endangered North Atlantic right whales.