SIXTEEN shipping companies reduced speeds to 10 knots or less in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Southern California region to avoid collisions with blue whales, reports Fort Lauderdale’s Maritime Executive.
The voluntary incentive programme, called “Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies,” ran May 15, 2020 through November 15, 2020.
“The public perception that all large whales are endangered is wrong. The truth is that most large whales are no longer commercially hunted and many are recovering from past exploitation,” said
In the 18th and 19th century whale oil from blubber was universally used in candles, oil lamps and lubricants for machinery until it was gradually replaced by oil found in the ground.
The ships that slow down to save the whales simultaneously kill invasive species in their ballast water via filtration, cyclonic separation, ozone, ultraviolet irradiation, in-transit heat, ultrasound, chlorine dioxide, or a combination of these technologies.
Shipping companies receive recognition and financial awards based on the per cent of distance travelled by their vessels through the vessel speed reduction zones at 10 knots or less and with an average speed of 12 knots or less.
The 10-knot target complements the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) requests for all vessels (300 gross tonnes or larger) to slow down during the months of peak endangered blue, humpback, and fin whale abundance to protect these whales from ship strikes.
Ship strikes are a major threat to whales globally and to the recovery of endangered blue, fin, and humpback whales in California waters. Reducing the risk of ship strikes is a major priority of NOAA’s, including NOAA’s west coast national marine sanctuaries.
Among the awarded companies were MSC, Hapag-Lloyd, Yang Ming, MOL and Swire Shipping.
Of the nearly 300,000 nautical miles of ocean transited by all the ships in the programme, more than 181,000 were at 10 knots or less.

Source: Schednet