In an effort to protect whales and cut ship emissions, California continues its Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies Program and establishes voluntary vessel speed reduction zones in the Santa Barbara Channel region and San Francisco Bay area between 1 July 2018 and 15 November 2018.
"Many of you are probably aware that the US West Coast has some of the heaviest ship traffic associated with some of the largest ports in the country, such as the Californian ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. You may also be aware that strict air pollution regulations in California have forced many ships to slow down off the Californian coast
. But did you know that California’s waters are host to numerous threatened and endangered whale species? And that the unintended consequence of ships’ slowing down has been a reduction in the number of fatal ship strikes to whales?," asks a press note from Gard.
California’s Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies Program is an incentive program recognising shipping companies that take action to protect endangered whales and improve air quality.
Voluntary vessel speed reduction (VSR) zones are established during periods that coincide with the busiest whale season and the prime period for high levels of air pollution - and financial rewards are provided to shipping companies that enrol and operate their vessels in accordance with the program criteria.
The 2018 incentive program will be in effect from 1 July to 15 November in defined VSR zones in the Santa Barbara Channel region and San Francisco Bay area.
Financial incentives will be awarded to companies based on per cent of distance travelled by their vessels through the VSR zones at 10 knots or less, termed “per cent cooperation,” during the identified period.
Average speed of a transit throughout the entire VSR zones must not exceed 12 knots in order to receive credit for distance travelled at 10 knots or less.