New Shipping Lanes: California Re-Routes Ships to Protect Whales

Some marine mammals are too slow to avoid ships, get hit by them

Conservationists will be pleased to hear that the state of California agreed to re-route the ships coming in and going out of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles just to make sure that the local whale population is kept out of harm's way.

The three species they wish to protect first and foremost are the blue, fin and humpback whales, all of which are rather slow because of their size and have a rather difficult time avoiding collisions with passing ships.

Besides this, all said marine mammals are presently listed as endangered, so it need not come as such a big surprise that efforts are being made to avoid their becoming extinct as a result of accidents that could have easily been avoided.

According to Mercury News, Seas Hastings, a specialist working with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, commented on the decision to re-route ships traveling in these waters as follows:

“It's a big deal when you're re-routing ships; imagine moving the 405. You can't move the animals out of the way of traffic, so we found a way to slightly adjust the traffic, and that will definitely add a buffer to the whales.”

The same source reports that, at least for the time being, most of the ships navigating towards the San Francisco Bay, the Santa Barbara Channel and the ports of LA and Long Beach sail over marine sanctuaries and places where said three whale species gather to feed.

Therefore, it often happens that the whales get hit by ships and either suffer considerable injuries, or even die.

It is to be expected that these new rules and regulations concerning California's shipping lanes will be implemented as early as next year, after the US Coast Guard offers its feedback on the matter at hand.

“The modifications to the traffic lanes balance the safe and efficient flow of commerce within and between our nation's ports, with NOAA's goal of reducing whale strikes from vessels,” stated Rear Adm. Karl Schultz, 11th Coast Guard district commander.

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