Whale protection considered
Green Consumer Guide
27th May 2004
New measures to reduce the often lethal impact that shipping has on whales are being assessed by US authorities, according to Bluewater Network and PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is considering reducing ship speeds and altering routes that go through known calving, mating and migratory areas.
Ship collisions pose a growing threat to whale populations around the world, with increasing traffic, vessel speeds and lower crew sizes becoming commonplace. More than 30% of whales found dead show injuries consistent with ship collisions, and inaccuracies in incident reporting do not offer a genuine number on the amount of whales that actually suffer from the problem.
The ‘Ship Strike Reduction Strategy’, currently under development by NOAA, focuses on bringing in the protective measures for the endangered North Atlantic right whale, although any successful features are expected to be implemented on a wider scale.
"Our government's posture can be summed up as, 'Damn the cetaceans, full speed ahead,” said New England PEER Director Kyla Bennett. "We routinely adopt speed limits and other traffic rules to prevent collisions on our roads but ignore the carnage at sea. We are closely monitoring whether the Bush Administration follows the biology or the politics in making this decision."
"As tankers, cruise ships and other vessels get bigger and faster, whales are more likely to get run over," added Kira Schmidt of Bluewater Network, "Reducing vessel speeds also has the added benefit of decreasing emissions that impair air quality and cause global warming."