The voluntary incentive program ran from 1st July to 15th November 2018. Partners recognized the companies at a ceremony at the Bannings Landing Community Center near the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach.

Shipping companies received financial awards based on the percent of distance traveled by their vessels through the Vessel Speed Reduction (VSR) zones at 10 knots or less and with an average speed of 12 knots or less.

The 10-knot target follows the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ requests for vessels (300 gross tons or larger) to slow down during the months of peak whale abundance to protect whales from lethal ship strikes. This time of year also coincides with the typical high ground-level ozone (smog) season.

The 10-knot target allows ships to travel at an efficient operating load that reduces air pollution and fuel costs.

The following shipping companies participated:

  • MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company)
  • NYK (Nippon Yusen Kaisha), Ro-Ro Division
  • Evergreen
  • ONE (Ocean Network Express)
  • Hapag-Lloyd
  • Hyundai Glovis
  • K Line
  • Maersk
  • GALI (Great American Lines, Inc.)
  • Yang Ming

Compliance with the program was verified through Automatic Identification System (AIS) data from transponders on each ship that continuously transmit a ship’s speed, heading, and location. Of the nearly 130,000 nautical miles of ocean transited by all the ships in the program, 46,026 nautical miles were at 10 knots or less.

The Vessel Speed reduction (VSR) program is a collaborative effort by the following agencies and organizations:

  • Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District
  • Ventura County Air Pollution Control District
  • Bay Area Air Quality Management District
  • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
  • Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
  • Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
  • Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
  • The Volgenau Foundation
  • California Marine Sanctuary Foundation
  • National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
  • Environmental Defense Center

Shipping companies received financial awards at different tiers based on the percent of distance that the vessels in their fleet traveled at a speed of 10 knots or less. The four award tiers were Bronze (i.e., 10%-25% of their distance traveled at 10 knots or less), Silver (25-50%), Gold (50-75%), and Sapphire (75-100%).

The VSR incentive program has expanded in scope each year, including 2018, which marked the fourth year. Highlights of the 2018 program include:

  • The 2018 program provided financial incentives based on the cooperation of an entire company’s fleet, whereas in previous years only specific transits were enrolled in the program;
  • Ships in the program transiting the Santa Barbara Channel VSR zone traveled approximately 100,000 total nautical miles in both 2018 and 2017. In 2017, 21% of those miles were traveled at 10 knots or less; in 2018, 32% of those miles were traveled at 10 knots or less.
  • In the San Francisco VSR zone, 2018 compliance was consistent with 2017 compliance, with 50% of the total nautical miles traveled at 10 knots or less in both years;
  • Incentives ranged from $4,000 to $75,000 per company.

Through cooperation and modest incentives, we can achieve the dual goals of protecting both the whales and our air quality.  This multi-agency effort highlights the positive changes we can make when we come together to reach mutually beneficial solutions,

...said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air District.