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IWC Guidance for Cruise Line Operators to Minimise Risk of Collisions with Cetaceans

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IWC Guidance for Cruise Line Operators to Minimise Risk of Collisions with Cetaceans
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IWC Guidance for Cruise Line Operators to Minimise Risk of Collisions with
Cetaceans
Fabian Ritter, Simone Panigada
April 2014
Collisions between cruise ships and cetaceans have been reported for a number of species, with large
whales being the most commonly reported hit. Many of these collisions have caused serious or fatal
injury to the whale. Nevertheless, reported cases likely represent only a fraction of the total incidents.
Between 1999 and 2011, six collisions between whales and cruise ships were reported in Alaskan waters
(Neilson et al., 2012). All of these ships had the whale stuck on their bow. Only a very small proportion
of collisions are likely to result in the whale becoming stuck, but these are the ones that get noticed. In
Antarctica, a humpback whale was killed after the collision with a cruise ship in 2007, and near misses
have been reported, too (Ritter, 2010).
Many collisions go unnoticed, as a strike even with large whales may not be recognized by the ship’s
crew. This is even more likely for small cetaceans such as pilot whales, beaked whales or dolphins; these
animals might very easily get struck without anyone knowing.
On the other hand, whales stuck on the bow receive a lot of (national and international) press attention,
thus having a potential negative impact on the cruise company. For related reasons, captains or
companies might be reluctant to report a ship strike, fearing “bad press” or even prosecution. (In 2007,
a cruise ship company was fined with 750.000 $ for failing to operate at slow speed around whales and
hitting a whale in Glacier National Park, Canada).
Off the east coast of the United States, there are areas designed to reduce the collision risk for highly
endangered North Atlantic right whales, where vessels are either required to avoid or, if transiting the
area, to maintain speeds of less than 10 knots.
Moreover, the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) approaching the port of Boston has been moved so as to
avoid the areas of highest whale density within the Stellwagen Bank National Whale Sanctuary. On the
west coast of the USA, similar measures have been recently implemented including around the Channel
Islands, a known hot spot for blue whales’ presence. In the Mediterranean Sea, the TSS off Cabo de Gata
(Southern Spain) was repositioned in 2006 due to a high abundance of pilot whales and other large
vertebrate species. While these changes were implemented by IMO, mandatory shipping route systems
can also be established by single nations within their territorial waters, e.g., in Glacier Bay National Park
in Alaska, where shipping management measures were implemented by the US National Park Service.
In the framework of their actions for the conservation of right whales, the US National Oceanographic
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guards established a
Mandatory Ship Reporting System for ships larger than 300 gross tons entering certain areas off New
England and the States of Georgia and Florida to report their position, speed and trip details to a land
based station. In return ships are informed about recent right whale sightings and precautionary
measures to take in order to avoid strikes.
A list of navigational mitigation measures currently in place is given in Annex 1. It is important to note
that in July 2009, IMO approved the Guidance Document “Measures to reduce ship strikes with
cetaceans”. This document identifies general principles for member states to monitor, assess, and
mitigate vessel-strike risk in their waters.
There is currently insufficient information on the response of whales to approaching large vessels to
suggest any technological solutions that are known to substantially reduce risk. The current options for
reducing risk are therefore limited to avoiding actions by the vessel, reducing cruising speeds, or routing
vessels away from areas with large numbers of whales. Taking action to avoid a collision requires both
detecting the whale in time and an appropriate avoidance manoeuvre. Good visual lookouts may be
kept on cruise ships with large crews in good sighting conditions during daylight hours, but their
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effectiveness will be limited during poor weather or darkness. Cruise ships also have to comply with
predetermined trip schedules. Consideration should be given for adjusting these schedules to allow for
slower speeds in areas of high whale density.
Routing vessels away from known or likely concentrations of whales or timing passages during periods
when whales are unlikely to be in the area will significantly reduce risk. This will be especially important
for cruises that do not involve wildlife observation (i.e. whale watching) in their programme. In such
cases, it will be comparably easy to adapt routes and plan voyages with a view to avoid sensitive areas.
Also, during passages at night time, when no whale observation is possible (for both crew and
passengers), it may be an option to move travel routes away from known or potential whale
concentrations. There are a number of ways for providing routing advice or instructions at different
spatial scales, depending on what data are available regarding whales for a specific region or area.
The IWC data base currently holds a considerable number of cases where the species struck is known:
fin, humpback, right and sperm whales accounted for 69% of reported collisions where species was
identified, suggesting particular attention should be given to these species.
In the Mediterranean Sea for instance, fin and sperm whales are the only large whales commonly
sighted and fin whales are the most threatened species by ship strikes. Fin whales tend to concentrate
for feeding purposes in the summer months in known areas, such as the Pelagos Sanctuary in the
Central Mediterranean Sea, thus allowing concrete routing schemes and speed reduction protocols.
Specific attention should be devoted to the regional or local scale, where feeding aggregations may
result more unpredictable and vary over the short-medium term. Sperm whales are strongly influenced
by bathymetry and tend to prefer slope areas, as for example the Hellenic Trench off the Greek
coastline.
Both humpback and sperm whales are relatively well studied in terms of their habitat characteristics and
movements and so there is potential to suggest routing advice based on oceanography, bathymetry and
movement patterns. In some areas there are also considerable data from sightings surveys (shipboard or
aerial), regular whale watching activities, satellite telemetry projects or historical whaling records of
areas where concentrations of animals are likely. Fin and humpback whales may also have a distinct
seasonal distribution; the latter species in particular can be concentrated on quite narrow migration
routes.
However, there may well be areas with concentrations of other species such that these present the
greatest collision risk. Particular attention should be devoted to areas where species distributional
overlap, considering that species-specific mitigation measures may apply for one species and for
another one.
In addition, the following procedure is suggested:
(1) Collating baseline data
Before voyage planning, gather data on the seasonal and temporal patterns of whale distribution and
movements along the selected routes. In many cases there will be no data, but the voyage may pass
through certain habitat types that may relate to whale concentrations and inferences about seasonal
migration may also be possible. Some of these areas might be designated as Marine Protected Areas
(MPAs) for whales and other marine life. Gathering information on protected areas might thus help
identifying potential cetacean hot spots (see reference list). If in doubt, you may also contact IWC ship
strike data coordinators.
(2) Route planning
(a) At the planning stage of the cruise, try to define routes that will cross likely features that concentrate
whales (e.g. continental shelf break, large oceanic fronts) as close to perpendicular as possible. Also try
to avoid areas of complex bathymetry such as seamount and gullies, with appropriate routing
instructions for captains.
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(b) During voyage planning, also compile information about (voluntary and mandatory) speed
restrictions along the route (see Annex 1)). Abide by all recommended speed limits and arrange voyage
plans accordingly.
(3) Informing captains, crew and staff
(a) Ensure your captains and watch officers are properly informed about the risk of ship strikes and
areas where whales are most likely to be encountered, so that if possible they can consider posting
additional lookouts in these areas.
(b) Provide captains and crew with general advice on the species most likely to be encountered. For
example, whales tend to aggregate, therefore seeing one is an indication that there are likely to be
others in the area. Some behavioural characteristics are also relevant to collision risk (e.g. a sperm
whale lifting its flukes is likely to dive deep for over 30 minutes, whereas a humpback whale lifting its
flukes may only dive for a few minutes). Other whales, such as fin whales, do not show the fluke and
their movements may be therefore harder to assess.
(c) All captains and crew should be provided with briefing materials on what to do and look for in the
event of a collision (see also below).
(d) There is a variety of information material available to date, including manuals, leaflets, websites and
dedicated tutorials. Operators should make sure that they know about these materials and forward
them to captains, watch officers and other relevant staff. A list of available education materials and
resources is provided in Annex 2.
(e) It will be equally important to include the issue into curricula at maritime high schools, institutions,
seminars, or even on-board presentations. IWC is currently reaching out to a variety of educational
institutions. Cruise operators might want to consider giving special internal lessons to their staff or
facilitate on board information.
(4) Operational measures
(a) Reducing speed
Slowing down when a whale is seen will always be a sensible short term measure. Remember that
seeing one whale is often an indication that there may be others in the area. Speed restrictions as an
important and effective measure to mitigate collision risk have been established in different areas
around the globe. Although they often are voluntary, cruise companies are encouraged to instruct
captains to always abide by recommended speed limitations. If the voyage was planned accordingly (see
also above), this should not cause problems with predetermined schedules. A list of areas where speed
limitations exist is given in Annex 1. In addition, allowing more time at sea has several benefits
including reduced fuel consumption but also giving passengers more opportunities to see wildlife.
(b) Avoidance of whales
In case of a whale sighted ahead of the vessel, an avoidance manoeuvre might have to be initiated.
Firstly, turning the vessel away from the spot where the whale (or its blow) has been sighted is
paramount. Ideally, the ship will turn towards the opposite direction of the travel direction of the whale.
This implies that helmsman or staff were able to identify the swimming direction of the animal, which is
not always easy. Also, depending on their general behaviour, cetaceans can frequently change their
direction while below the surface, thus surfacing unexpectedly. The longer the whale can be observed
before the vessel comes so close that a collision risk evolves, the better the ship crew will be capable to
adjust the vessels behaviour. Under ideal conditions, a whale might be seen miles ahead with several
minutes remaining to (re)act.
(c) If a collision occurred
In the unfortunate case that a strike has happened, it is important that the animal is observed closely for
as long as possible, to identify possible injuries and whether the whale still appears to be alive. Blood
seen in the water would be indicative of major injury. Importantly, one must not forget to continue
looking out closely for other whales in the vicinity, as cetaceans tend to congregate in certain areas. If
the species and possibly an age class can be identified, this will be key information when reporting the
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incident. Collecting navigational information at the time of an impact is most important. Ship speed,
location, time of day, visibility, number of watch keepers as well as propeller RPM and any damage to
the vessel will later help scientists to identify collisions risk and circumstances. All information should be
compiled immediately and reported later on-line (see below).
(d) If a near-miss occurred
The IWC is also very keen on reporting near-miss events. Reports of events where a collision was
narrowly avoided are very encouraged. Details on how the collision was avoided are important and
should be described.
(5) Operational guidelines during whale watching activities
In some situations a cruise ship may encounter whales and if the schedule allows, the decision might be
taken to stay and observe them. If the whales are observed from the cruise ship then slowing down is
the first response to reduce collision risk and allow passengers to view the whale. Numerous operators
also include dedicated whale watching activities in their programme, e.g. from own Zodiacs during
Artic/Antarctic expedition cruises. If small boats will be launched, whale-watching guidelines and local
regulations for approaching whales and dolphins should be followed. In National EEZs or MPAs they
should know and abide by any National whale watching regulations or guidelines]. Generally, it is most
important to adhere to guidelines such as the ones developed by IAATO for both large ships and small
boats (see http://iaato.org/wildlife-watching-guidelines), or take seriously into considerations the
recommendations by the Scientific Committee of the IWC (see http://iwc.int/wwguidelines#manage).
(6) Technological solutions
There is currently no technological solution available to ensure ships strikes can be effectively avoided.
However, a number of options have been tested so far and/or are being further developed. They include
night vision binoculars, infrared cameras, passive acoustic systems, real time transmission of whale
sightings, etc. Cruise companies might consider applying some of them routinely or even contribute to
research into technologies by testing them and documenting the results.
(7) Reporting
Reporting ship strikes is paramount. Only through knowing how many collisions occur on a national,
regional or global basis, scientists will be able to estimate collision risk for certain areas or mortality
rates for whale species. In several countries, reporting of ship strikes is mandatory or requested.
Mariners should familiarize themselves with reporting protocols in these countries.
Collecting data on collision events is critical to help understanding the problem and developing
mitigation measures. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has developed a global database and
all incidents should be reported to the IWC (http://iwc.int/ship-strikes or by email to
shipstrikes@iwc.int).
Please note that reporting to the IWC data base is for data collection purposes only. Providing as
much details as possible (including photographs or video) is important, as accurate reporting is
essential for ultimate prevention. On the other hand, not reporting to appropriate National
authorities is more likely to lead to negative consequences.
Conclusion
As more information becomes available through co-operation between cruise companies and the
shipping industry in general, there will be scope for developing more effective mitigation measures. At
present however a good lookout and careful voyage planning are the most effective ways of reducing
risk. If collisions with whales are taken into account at the planning stage then choosing routes and
speeds to minimise risk will benefit whales and cruise operators alike.
By taking the issue of collision with whales seriously, companies are creating additional benefits. Making
changes for whales can easily be used as a marketing tool, which is especially important for cruise line
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managers. “Selling” whale friendly behaviour will likely increase recognition by customers. At the same
time, operators can use their engagement to setting examples within the industry, thus encouraging
other companies to follow the same route.
Finally, accurate reporting of incidents is essential for ultimate prevention. IWC’s data base serves as the
global online tool to facilitate reporting collisions with whales. Reporting to the IWC data base is for
scientific data analysis purposes only.
It has also to be stressed that not reporting to appropriate national or international authorities is more
likely to lead to negative consequences than reporting and that legal liability only can apply if legislation
has been breached. As long as the guidance given in this document is being followed, this should not be
the case.
Outlook
In the future, if awareness will be raised on a broader scale within the shipping industry, we envision a
close co-ordination within associations e.g. via umbrella associations such as IAATO, AENA, etc. It might
even be the case that a label for “best whale friendly practice” will be developed. In that sense, we
emphasise that all measures and actions laid out in this document have to be adaptive. We should
accommodate our rules and procedures accordingly when new knowledge arises. Working together with
the IWC to develop mitigation measures and facilitate their practical application is recommended.
To foster the dialogue between scientists, shipping companies and cruise operators, the IWC has
established two ship strike coordinators. To get in touch with the IWC ship strike data coordinators use
the following email addresses:
Fabian Ritter - ritter@m-e-e-r.de
Simone Panigada - panigada@inwind.it
For further information on ship strikes please have a look at:
http://iwc.int/ship-strikes
Annex 1: Navigational mitigation measures, see page 6
Annex 2: Education materials & resources / reporting, see page 7
ANNEX 1: Navigational ship strike mitigation measures currently in p lace
A) Relocation of shipping lanes
State Area (State) Shipping lane/port affected Measure(s) Implementation
Implementated by
Cetacean related rationale Notes
US East Coast (Massachusetts) TSS into Boston reduction of width of shipping lane Jun 2009 IMO
To avoid important large whale habitat within the
Stellwagen Marine Sanctuary
http://www.nero.noaa.gov/shipstrike/doc/rm.html
TSS shifted northwards
US West Coast (California) Channel Islands TSS shifted northwards Jun 2013 IMO
To avoid important blue whale habitat http://channelislands.noaa.gov/focus/management.html
New alternative TSS south of Santa Barbara Channel
US West Coast (California) TSS into San Francisco All three navigation lanes were extended Jun 2013 IMO
To avoid overlap with blue and humpback whale feeding
grounds
Funnels of navigation lanes became straight channels
CAN East coast, Bay of Fundy TSS Bay of Fundy relocation of northern extent of TSS Jul 2003 IMO
To avoid right whale concentrations http://www.rightwhale.ca/shippinglanes-routesnavigation_e.php
ES South Coast, Mediterranean TSS off Cabo de Gata Relocation of TSS to the south Dec 2006 IMO
To avoid important cetacean habitat
Strait of Gibraltar, Alboran Sea TSS Strait of Gibraltar Modification of TSS Dec 2006
B) Mandatory/recommended shipping routes
State Area (State) Waters/port affected Measure(s) Time frame Implementation
Cetacean related rationale Notes
US East Coast (Massachusetts) Cape Cod Area recommended shipping routes Nov 2006 NOAA
To avoid important right whale habitat http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrike/routes.htm
US East Coast (Georgia) Brunswick recommended shipping routes Nov 2006, updated Nov 2012 NOAA
To avoid important right whale habitat http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrike/routes.htm
US East Coast (Florida) Jacksonville recommended shipping routes Nov 2006 NOAA
To avoid important right whale habitat http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrike/routes.htm
US East Coast (Florida) Fernandina recommended shipping routes Nov 20 06 NOAA
To avoid important right whale habitat http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrike/routes.htm
US West coast (Alaska) Glacier Bay National Park recommended shipping routes 1981 (latest update Jul 2013) Park Service
To avoid humpback whale concentrations http://www.nps.gov/glba/parknews/whale_waters-update-13july2013.htm
ARG Province of Chubut Golfo Nuevo, Peninsula Valdez recommended navigation corridor 1 Jun - 30 Nov 2009 (latest update 2010)
Argentine Coast
Guard
To reduce encounter probability between ships and
southern right whales
C) Areas to be avoided (ATBA)
State Area (State) Waters/port affected Measure(s) Time frame Implementation
Cetacean related rationale Notes
US East Coast (Massachusetts) Great South Channel off Boston ATBA for ships larger than 300 GT 1 Apr - 31 Jul Jun 2009 IMO
To reduce collision risk between right whales and ships http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrike/archive.htm#routing only applies to ships > 300 GT
CAN East Coast (Nova Scotia) Roseway Basin ATBA for ships larger than 300 GT 1 Jun - 31 Dec May 20 08 IMO
http://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_research/projects/tools_for_conservation
/gis/gis_projects/right_whales_and_gis/shipping_lanes_and_gis/roseway_basin.ph
p
recommendatory for all vessels > 300 GT
D) Speed reduction
State Area (State) Waters/port affected Measure(s) Time frame Implementation
Cetacean related rationale Notes
US East Coast (Massachusetts) Cape Cod Bay SMA* Seasonal SMA, mandatory 10 knots speed restriction 1 Jan - 15 Ma y 2008, renewed in 2013 NOAA
To reduce collision risk between right whales and ships http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrike/archive.htm#routing applies to all vessels equal or greater than 20 m
US East Coast (Massachusetts) Off Race Point SMA* Seasonal SMA, mandatory 10 knots speed restriction 1 Mar - 3 0 April 2008, renewed in 2013 NOAA
To reduce collision risk between right whales and ships http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrike/ applies to all vessels equal or greater than 20 m
US East Coast (Massachusetts) Great Sout Channel SMA* Seasonal SMA, mandatory 10 knots speed restriction 1 May - 31 Jul 2008, renewed in 2013 NOAA
To reduce collision risk between right whales and ships http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrike/ applies to all vessels equal or greater than 20 m
US US - Mid Atlantic 6 Seasonal SMAs* mandatory 10 knots speed restriction 1 Nov -30 Apr 2008, renewed in 2013 NOAA
To reduce collision risk between right whales and ships http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrike/ applies to all vessels equal or greater than 20 m
US US - Southeast
Brunswick, Fernandina, Jacksonville
SMA* mandatory 10 knots speed restriction 15 Nov - 15 Apr 2008, renewed in 2013 NOAA To reduce collision risk between right whales and ships http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrike/
US US - Northeast DMA**
2002 NOAA
To protect unexpected aggregations of right whales http://www.nero.noaa.gov/whaletrp/plan/dam/
US West coast (Alaska)
NOAA http://www.nps.gov/glba/2010-07-08.htm
US West coast (Alaska) Glacier Bay National Park mandatory 10 kn speed limitation Park Service
To protect humpback whales
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2012-title36-vol1/pdf/CFR-2012-title36-vol1-
sec13-1174.pdf
US West Coast (California)
Shipping lanes into Los Angeles and Long
Beach
NMFS, US Coast
Guards
http://channelislands.noaa.gov/focus/alert.html
ES Strait of Gibraltar recommendation to reduce speed to 13 kn Apr - Aug Jul 2007 IMO
ARG Province of Chubut Golfo Nuevo, Peninsula Valdez 10 knots speed limit within navigation corridor 1 Jun - 30 Nov 2009
Argentine Coast
Guard
To reduce collision risk between southern right whales
and ships
E) Other measures
State Area (State) Waters/port affected Measure(s) Time frame Date of Implementation
Cetacean related rationale Notes
US East Coast (Massachusetts) Mandatory Ship Reporting systems (MSR) year round Jul 1999 IMO
To reduce collision risk between right whales and ships http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/shipstrike/coastpilots.pdf
all commercial vessels > 300 GT are required to
report to shore-based
US East Coast (Gerogia & Florida) Mandatory Ship Reporting systems (MSR) 15 Nov - 15 April Jul 1999 IMO
To reduce collision risk between right whales and ships http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/shipstrike/coastpilots.pdf
stations when they entered either of the two
regions
* SMA = Seasonal Management Area (mandatory)
** DMA = (Voluntary) Dynamic Management Area set up dynamically as right whale aggregations are reported
ANNEX 2: Ship strike mitigation measures (educational & reporting)
A) Educational resource s
State Applicable Resource Title Developed by Contents
US Right whale habitats Interactive CD-ROM A Prudent Mariner’s Guide to Right Whale Protection US stakeolders
Information on right whales ship strikes
reduction
http://www.nero.noaa.gov/shipstrike/doc/mtr.html
US World wide Interactive CD-ROM Holland America Line Information for cruise operators http://www.hollandamerica.com/sustainability
BE World wide Leaflet Govt. of Belgium, IFAW
Available in English, Franch, Spanish, Chinese &
Arabian
http://www.iwcoffice.org/sci_com/shipstrikes.htm
IT Mediterranean Sea Ship strike poster Collisions with cetaceans in the Med Tethys Research Institute What to do in case of a strike http://www.tethys.org/collisioni/_download/poster_collisions_en.jpg
US Right whale habitats Ship strike placard Guidelines for mariners NOAA Precautionary measures http://www.nero.noaa.gov/shipstrike/doc/guidelines%20placard_high.pdf
World wide Global Map of MPAs Cetacean habitat directory for MPAs and sanctuaries http://www.cetaceanhabitat.org/find_mpa_advanced1.php
B) Training courses
State Applicable Resource Title Developed by Contents Notes
US
Voyage Planning and Marine Environmental Protection
Measures to Avoid Collisions with the North Atlantic Right
Whale
NMFS/scientists Information material for teachers, etc. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/
Merchant Mariner Training Curriculum NOAA Curriculum online available
http://www.nero.noaa.gov/shipstrike/doc/mmem.html
US Hawaii Be Whale Aware Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) Free training course http://www.pacificwhale.org/BWA
FR Mediterranean Sea
Shipping and cetaceans: How to improve their relation?
Fr. Superior School of Shipping of Marseille/
Souffleurs d’Ecume
Free training course for mariners
C) Reporting
Applicable URL Developed by Notes
World wide http://www.iwcoffice.org/ship-strikes Online IWC ship strike data base IWC
US waters http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/coordinators.htm Contact details for NMFS regional offices NOAA, NMFS
Australian waters http://data.marinemammals.gov.au/ Online reporting tool (coming soon) Australian Marine Mammal Centre
Mediterranean Sea http://tethys.org/collisioni/index.htm Online reporting tool Tethys Research Institute
Pelagos Sanctuary http://www.souffleursdecume.com/etudes_collisions.html Reporting sheet via download Souffleurs D'écumes
C) Websites
URL Developed by Contents Notes
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrike/ NOAA
Ship Strikes and North Atlantic Right Whales
http://channelislands.noaa.gov/focus/alert.html NOAA Reducing ship strikes on large whales
http://www.iwcoffice.org/ship-strikes IWC Ship strikes and cetaceans Access to IWC data base via this site
http://m-e-e-r.de/index.php?id=473&L=2 M.E.E.R. e.V.
General information and awareness raising
(special focus on Canary Islands)
Bilingual English/German
http://www.pacificwhale.org/BWA Pacific Whale Foundation Awareness raising
http://souffleursdecume.com/english/index_EN.html Soffleurs d'ecumes
General information on ship strikes (special
focus on the Mediterranean Sea)
Bilingual English/French
http://uk.whales.org/issues/boat-traffic Whale and Dolphin Conservation, WDC
Info on ship strikes with reference to
research projects
E) Further reading
Medium Authors(s) Title Notes Web Notes
Book Erich Hoyt Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises http://www.cetaceanhabitat.org/cetacean_protected_areas.php
Document IMO
Guidance Document for Minimizing the Risk of Ship Strikes
with Cetaceans
MEPC.1/Circ.674, 31 July 2009 imo.org/blast/blastDataHelper.asp?data_id=26244
... NMFS, the International Maritime Organization, and others have implemented various measures in specific locations to reduce the risk of vessel collisions with large whales. These include the re-routing of shipping lanes, creation of areas to be avoided by ships, mandatory or voluntary speed restrictions for ships, using ship crew as lookouts for whales, and increasing the awareness of ship crews about whale strikes (Calambokidis 2013, Ritter andPanigada 2014). Several of these actions have been undertaken in areas of California and Alaska, but none have yet been implemented in Washington. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The humpback whale is found in nearly all of the world’s oceans and undertakes long distance migrations between winter breeding grounds in tropical and subtropical waters and summer feeding grounds in high-latitude waters. Humpbacks were heavily exploited worldwide during the whaling era, including in Washington. By the time the species received global protection in 1966, North Pacific populations were severely depleted, with estimates of only 1,200 to 1,400 individuals remaining. Since then, these populations have rebounded to an estimated 16,000 to 21,000 animals, although some stocks have recovered more successfully than others. Humpback whales have been listed as a state endangered species in Washington since 1981. In 2016, the National Marine Fisheries Service identified 14 Distinct Population Segments (DPSs) worldwide, three of which visit Washington’s waters. These include (1) the Mexico DPS, which comprises 27.9% of humpback whales present in the state and is federally threatened, (2) the Central America DPS, which contributes the fewest animals (8.7%) among Washington’s humpbacks and is federally endangered, and (3) the Hawaii DPS, which comprises 63.5% of the humpbacks visiting Washington and is not federally listed. Humpbacks in the North Pacific remain vulnerable to a number of threats, including entanglement in fishing gear and marine debris, ship strikes, human-generated marine sound, the effects of climate change, and for the Central America DPS, possible issues related to small population size. Although humpback whales have rebounded since the cessation of whaling, the Central America DPS and Mexico DPS, which together comprise 36.6% of the humpbacks that visit Washington waters, remain below sustainable numbers and continue to be federally listed as endangered and threatened, respectively. Due to their federal status and the threats and uncertainties described in this report, it is recommended that this species be retained as a state endangered species in Washington.
... NMFS, the International Maritime Organization, and others have implemented various measures in specific locations to reduce the risk of vessel collisions with large whales. These include the rerouting of shipping lanes, creation of areas to be avoided by ships, mandatory or voluntary speed restrictions for ships, using ship crew as lookouts for whales, and increasing the awareness of ship crews about whale strikes (Calambokidis 2013, Ritter andPanigada 2014). Several of these actions have been undertaken in areas of California and Alaska, but none have yet been implemented in Washington. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Gray whales in the North Pacific are divided into two populations (or stocks) known as the Eastern North Pacific (ENP) and Western North Pacific (WNP) populations. Both were severely depleted prior to the mid-20th century by harvest during the whaling era. The ENP population migrates along the Pacific coast of North America between summer feeding grounds in the Bering, Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and wintering sites along western Baja California and the southern Gulf of California in Mexico, where mating and calving occur. This stock has recovered from the impacts of whaling and was federally delisted by the U.S. in 1994. It held an estimated 26,960 whales in 2016, when it was believed to exist at or near carrying capacity, but declined to an estimated 20,580 animals in 2019-2020. Within the ENP population, a small aggregation of about 232 individuals known as the Pacific Coast Feeding Group (PCFG) has been identified. These whales show regular fidelity during the summer and fall feeding season to waters along the coasts of northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and occasionally as far north as Kodiak Island, Alaska. Genetic testing indicates some differentiation from the greater ENP population, but PCFG whales likely interbreed with other ENP whales, and the PCFG is still considered a feeding aggregation of the ENP population. The WNP population, which is federally classified as endangered by the U.S., primarily feeds in summer in the Sea of Okhotsk and off the southeastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Bering Sea, and is presumed to winter off the coast of China. Abundance, calculated in 2016 to be roughly 271 to 311 individuals one year and older, remains far below pre-whaling numbers. Research since 2004 has detected some members of this population migrating along the Pacific coast of North America to feeding and wintering grounds used by the ENP population. Gray whales face a number of known or potential threats such as entanglement in fishing gear and marine debris, ship strikes, human-generated marine sound, and climate change. Because of these threats, the small size of the WNP population and its federal endangered status, and the substantial level of uncertainty pertaining to the PCFG’s possible status as a separate stock under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is recommended that gray whales as a species be retained as a state sensitive species in Washington. However, uplisting to a higher level of protection may be warranted in the future if continuing research determines that WNP whales regularly migrate through Washington’s waters and/or the PCFG is classified as a separate stock.
... NMFS, the International Maritime Organization, and others have implemented various measures to reduce the risk of vessel collisions with whales in specific locations. These include the re-routing of shipping lanes, creation of areas to be avoided by ships, mandatory or voluntary speed restrictions for ships, using ship crew as lookouts for whales, and increasing the awareness of ship crews about whale strikes (Calambokidis 2013, Ritter andPanigada 2014). Several of these actions have been undertaken in areas of California and Alaska, but none have yet been implemented in Washington. ...
Technical Report
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Blue, fin, sei, North Pacific right, and sperm whales have been listed as state endangered species in Washington since 1981. Populations of all five species, including those in the North Pacific Ocean, greatly declined in the 1800s and 1900s from being severely overharvested by whalers. Current abundance remains strongly influenced by past levels of whaling harvest. Information on the biology, stock status, and trend of these species is summarized below. • Blue whale – This large baleen whale forages primarily on krill along continental shelf slopes and deeper oceanic waters. Animals off Washington belong to the Eastern North Pacific stock, which mostly migrates between northern summer feeding locations and wintering areas off western Mexico and Central America. Current stock size is about 1,600 whales and remains below the estimated historical stock size of 2,200 individuals. Stock trend is possibly stable. Blue whales are now regularly present off the outer Washington coast. • Fin whale – Another large baleen whale, this species occurs mainly along or beyond continental shelf breaks, where it feeds on krill, forage fish, and other prey. Fin whales off Washington belong to the California/Oregon/Washington stock, which is at least partially migratory. The stock currently holds about 9,000 animals and is experiencing strong growth. Historical stock size is unknown. Fin whales are now regularly present off the outer coast of Washington. Rare sightings in the Salish Sea in 2015 and 2016 are the first in recent decades. • Sei whale – This medium-sized baleen whale forages on copepods and other prey mainly in deep oceanic waters. Most individuals are migratory between higher latitudes in the summer and lower latitudes in the winter. Animals off Washington belong to the Eastern North Pacific stock, which currently numbers about 500 whales. Trend and historical stock size are unknown. Although there have been no recent confirmed detections of sei whales in Washington, the species likely remains a rare visitor to the state’s outermost waters. • North Pacific right whale – A large baleen whale, this species feeds primarily on copepods in shelf, shelf edge, and deeper oceanic waters, and is migratory between northern summering areas and southern wintering areas. Animals along the western North American coast belong to the Eastern North Pacific stock. Once abundant, this stock now contains about 30 whales and is near extirpation, with no sign of recovery. Stock members are very rare visitors south of Alaska, with just a handful of records off the outer coast of Washington since the early 1900s. • Sperm whale – The largest of the toothed whales, sperm whales are deep diving predators of mainly squid. Deep oceanic waters are inhabited, although males sometimes venture onto continental shelves. Animals off Washington belong to the California/Oregon/Washington stock, which currently numbers about 2,100 whales. Although historical stock size is unknown, it was probably larger than current size. Stock trend is possibly stable. Sperm whales are regularly present off the outer Washington coast. The stocks of all five species face potentially significant and increasing threats from one or more factors, with those of greatest concern being ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear and marine debris, human-generated marine sound, climate change, and in the case of North Pacific right whales, issues related to small population size. With these considerations in mind and because all five species are federally listed as endangered, it is recommended that blue, fin, sei, North Pacific right, and sperm whales remain listed as state endangered species in Washington.
Thesis
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Collisions with ships are one of the main modern threats to whale survival. Several solutions exist to reduce the risk of collision, but the compliance of the shipping industry with them is often limited. This interdisciplinary thesis aims at understanding the economic, logistic, and ecological gaps that hinder the shipping industry’s compliance. The research question is the following: How to integrate human and ecological dimensions in a standardized process to better manage whale-ship collisions? To answer this question, this thesis aims at (1) defining a standardized assessment process for mitigation solutions; (2) investigating the economic and logistic dimensions needed to achieve a holistic assessment of the whale-ship collision issue. The International Maritime Organization has the potential to improve whale protection from ship strikes, and we investigate its risk assessment framework, namely the Formal Safety Assessment. Based on the identified gap within this framework, our research first explores the notion of acceptable risk within the shipping industry and conservation science. Then, we investigate the preferences of the shipping industry for mitigation solutions, and study the economic benefits of avoiding collisions, through avoided costs and risk evaluation criterion. By creating a bridge between economics and ecology, this manuscript improves the mutual understanding of the shipping industry and conservation science. This work could be used as guidelines for the proposal of solutions, leading to an increased compliance of the shipping companies, and, therefore, an improved protection of whales.
Article
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Ship strikes are one of the main human-induced threats to whale survival. A variety of measures have been used or proposed to reduce collisions and subsequent mortality of whales. These include operational measures, such as mandatory speed reduction, or technical ones, such as detection tools. There is, however, a lack of a systematic approach to assessing the various measures that can mitigate the risk of ship collisions with whales. In this paper, a holistic approach is proposed to evaluate mitigation measures based on a risk assessment framework that has been adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), namely the Formal Safety Assessment (FSA). Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) is "a rational and systematic process for assessing the risk related to maritime safety and the protection of the marine environment and for evaluating the costs and benefits of IMO's options for reducing these risks". The paper conceptualizes the use of a systematic risk assessment methodology, namely the FSA, to assess measures to reduce the risk of collisions between ships and whales.
Technical Report
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The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has identified the need to produce a Strategic Plan describing its activities intended to reduce the threat of ship strikes with cetaceans in the near and distant future. This document provides the necessary background, information and recommendations to help the IWC develop approaches and solutions by 2020 to achieve a permanent reduction in ship strikes of cetaceans.
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