Shipping Companies Recognized for Reducing Vessel Speeds to Protect Whales

Image via “Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies” program.

Over a dozen shipping companies, including MSC, Maersk, Yang Ming COSCO and K Line received awards in September for reducing speeds in and around California waters as part of the “Protecting Blue Whales & Blue Skies” program.

A total of 19 shipping companies participated, transiting at 10 knots or less in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Southern California region. The program’s Southern California region extends from Point Arguello in Santa Barbara County to waters near Dana Point, south of the Los Angeles and Long Beach seaports.

The “Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies” program is a collaborative effort by a number of local and regional air pollution control districts; multiple national marine sanctuaries; a handful of marine sanctuary foundations; the Scripps Whale Acoustic Laboratory/Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and other organizations.

Shipping companies receive awards based on the percent of distance traveled by their vessels through the Vessel Speed Reduction (VSR) zones at 10 knots or less and with an average speed of 12 knots or less.

Three award tiers recognize participating companies based on the percent of distance their fleet traveled through the VSR zones at speeds of 10 knots or less. The three award tiers are Sapphire (85-100% of fleet total distance in VSR zones traveled at 10 knots or less), Gold (60-84%), and Blue Sky (35-59%).

For the fourth straight year, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) achieved the Sapphire tier in the large fleet category and demonstrated that planning enables ships to reduce speeds in VSR zones without disrupting operations. In 2021, MSC traveled more than 23,000 nautical miles at 10 knots or less.

Swire Shipping achieved the Sapphire tier in the small fleet category with 1,500 nautical miles at 10 knots or less. For their outstanding commitment, the two companies earned the Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies Whale Tail award.

Shipping companies that participated in the 2021 program reduced their air pollutant emissions by 650 tons of NOx and 22,201 metric tons of regional GHGs, according to the program’s directors.

Incentives ranged from $5,000 to $50,000 per company in the Gold and Sapphire award tiers.

By Pacific Maritime Magazine