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WSC launches first global navigational whale chart


Accidental collisions between ships and whales are a global concern, and can occur wherever there is an overlap between whale activity and vessel traffic. To help seafarers plan their voyages to minimize the risk of collisions, the World Shipping Council (WSC) has launched the WSC Whale Chart. This navigational aid is the first global mapping of all mandatory and voluntary governmental measures to reduce harm to whales from ships. The WSC Whale Chart is available for free to all interested parties and will be regularly updated.

Whales inhabit the world’s oceans and many spend considerable time at the surface. For these reasons whales are especially vulnerable to injury by vessel traffic, and experience shows that separating ships and whales is the most effective way to limit ship strikes. In areas where separation is not possible, speed reductions can help mitigate the risk. Hence, there are numerous international, regional, national and local regulations and recommendations addressing areas to be avoided, routing measures, and speed restrictions for seafarers to keep track of as they navigate the globe.

“With the WSC Whale Chart, seafarers will for the first time have a comprehensive global resource offering critical navigational coordinates and concise graphics to identify routing measures and areas subject to static speed restrictions designed to protect whales and other cetaceans. We hope that by compiling this unique navigational aid, keeping it updated and making it available for free to all navigators, we can help reduce ship strikes and safeguard endangered whale populations across the globe,” says John Butler, President & CEO of the WSC.

WSC members are container and roll-on-roll off carriers, with vessels in constant transit across the oceans. Carriers are acutely aware of the risk of collision with whales, and WSC works closely with NGOs, governments, regional and local authorities, and through the International Maritime Organisation to reduce the risk of collisions between ships, whales, and other cetaceans.

International Whales Protection Workshop

As a result of this work, today also sees the first major international gathering of industry, government, NGOs and academia at the forefront of efforts to protect endangered whale populations. Organised by WSC and hosted by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) in Geneva, the International Whales Protection Workshop aims to promote knowledge sharing across this wide range of organisations to drive progress on strategies, operational measures, and technical solutions that can help protect whales.

Scientists, researchers and whale experts shared the latest research in cetacean science; government authorities, international organisations, marine biologists, industry, and multiple environmental organizations reviewed the most important tools available today to avoid whale strikes.

Technology developers, governmental representatives, and industry explored recent developments in whale strike avoidance technologies; and representatives from regulators in Canada, Europe, and the U.S.A. exchanged experiences and lessons learned together with marine biologists, environmental organisations, and industry experts.

(Photo from Vancouver Fraser Port Authority)