Commentary by Marnie Gaede, Director and Vice President
I have recently learned of a great effort to protect endangered populations of Blue Whale and other magnificent whales from being struck by oil tankers, cargo ships, and cruise lines along the California Coast. These whales’ migration route overlaps with one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes that leads to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. These ships hauling tons of people and goods cross over critical feeding habitat for migrating whales. Each year more whales are killed or cut to ribbons by massive propellers.
The shipping industry believes the cost to them would be too great to move transit lanes away from the whale feeding grounds. Voluntary efforts have been ineffective, and ships continue to kill whales. The US Coast Guard acknowledged the need to move shipping lanes to protect whales in a Port Access Study of 2011, but the US Navy objected to a shift through Point Mugu Naval Air Station waters even though oil-tankers are routinely routed through that area.
The Great Whales Conservancy is petitioning the US Government to protect Blue Whales from the threat of extinction. Death by ship strike is as a lethal as a harpoon, and the numbers of Blue Whales continues to be depleted. Further losses and a reduction of genetic diversity of the species would be a tragedy. A similar conflict was addressed between the North Atlantic Right Whale, and transit lanes and speed adjustments are in place and saving lives.
This is an urgent matter and I am hoping that my fellow members of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will sign an important petition asking NOAA, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Commandant of the Coast Guard and the Secretary of the Navy to establish commercial shipping lanes through Point Mugu Naval Air Station Waters to protect the Blue Whale from extinction and all migratory whales from a preventable horrific death by ship strike.