Whales shift shipping lanes in California
Current shipping channels overlap with whale feeding and migration areas
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 3 January, 2013 : - - Several endangered whale species may get a new lease on life when some cargo shipping lanes off the California coast are shifted next year.
Routes due to be changed by June 2013 are used by ocean-going cargo vessels, tugboats and automobile carriers near San Francisco Bay, the Channel Islands in central California and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, environmental officials said on Friday.
The shipping channels overlap with whale feeding and migration areas, and several blue whales and fin whales have been killed by ships, they said.
"The issue really struck home for us" with those deaths, said Michael Carver, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) deputy superintendent of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary in northern California.
The changes will not reduce the risk to zero, said Sean Hastings, a resource protection coordination with NOAA's Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.
Financial incentives to get vessels to slow down on their approach to the California coast are also being considered, Hastings said, adding that boats are now asked to voluntarily slow down but they are not doing it.
The Cordell sanctuary and other protected patches of ocean near San Francisco and the Channel Islands are habitats for blue, humpback and fin whales, which are protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
In 2007, four blue whales were believed to have been killed by ships near the Channel Islands, according to NOAA, and five whales were killed off the coast of San Francisco and in nearby areas in 2010.
Author: Alex Dobuzinskis
Tags: Whales, California, Ship Traffic