Science-Based Approach for Spotting Whales by Sea and Air

The Bold New Innovative Actions Coincide with New Traffic Lane Changes in Effect June 1.

On May 31st in San Francisco, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association announced a series of bold new measures that begin on June 1 to enhance navigational safety and protect whales from ship strikes off the California Coast, including changes in shipping lanes and the use of airplane overflights to spot where whales are located as they migrate along the coast.

The first of the actions officially takes place tomorrow as PMSA's member shipping companies and hundreds of other commercial vessels nearing California's busiest ports are rerouted under new Traffic Separation Schemes approved by the International Marine Organization (IMO).

In the new routing guidelines, effective June 1 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), all traffic lanes that cross four national marine sanctuaries (Gulf of the Farallones, Monterey Bay, Cordell Bank, Channel Islands) will be adjusted as part of an overall plan to improve navigational safety with the added benefit of reducing the risk of whale collisions on the approach to San Francisco Bay, the Santa Barbara Channel and the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Concern about the impacts of ships on whales led Gulf of the Farallones, Cordell Bank, and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Councils to assess and provide recommendations to reduce the chance of ship strikes. PMSA was an integral part of the Bay Area working group, along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the United States Coast Guard, biologists, researchers, and representatives of the environmental community, as well as other parties committed to making the seas safer for mariners and marine life.

Source: PMSA