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Program To Reduce Whale Strikes, Improve Air Quality By Slowing Cargo Ships Off California Coast Reporting Successful 2020

(NOAA Fisheries photo)
A blue whale, which is part of the focus of a program intended to reduce whale strikes and improve air quality offf the California Coast by getting companies to voluntarily slow the speed of cargo ships.

Program notes drops in whale strikes, air pollution

An annual program intended to slow cargo ships off the California coastline to reduce whale strikes, and cut pollution is again reporting positive results.

The “Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies” program compensates shipping companies for voluntarily slowing their ships off the coast. The program started in the Santa Barbara Channel, but has expanded to include much of Southern California, as well as the Bay Area.

By slowing the ships down to 10 knots, marine biologists say it reduces the chance of whales being hit by ships. Researchers say strikes were down by 35% for ships in the six month long 2020 program.

It’s also estimated that the reduction in pollution from slowing ships during was the equivalent of taking 5200 cars off the road for a year. The program's organizers include the Santa Barbara County and Ventura County Air Pollution Control Districts, as well as the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.