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Ship Shape: Stopping Whale Strikes

Posted Sep. 22, 2008 / Posted by: RConnors

Question: How can you reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save whales at the same time?  Answer: By reducing ship speed! 

The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered mammal species on the planet whose numbers hover dangerously around 300.  One of the greatest threats to these majestic whales is being struck by a vessel, which can result in severe injury or death. Slowing vessels can  significantly reduce the risk of whale strikes.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently released an environmental evaluation recommending a 10 knot speed limit along parts of the eastern U.S. coast to reduce the risk of vessel collisions with right whales.  This evaluation indicates that the risk to whales posed by slowing container ships could be reduced by 40 percent by slowing to 10 knots because of the whales' increased ability to detect and avoid approaching vessels.  Moreover, this "slow steaming" dramatically reduces fuel use, resulting in greenhouse gas emission reductions.  A fleetwide 10 percent speed reduction would result in a 23 percent decrease in carbon dioxide emissions.

Click here to ask NOAA to protect the North Atlantic right whale from ship strikes.

More information on NOAA's Strategy to Reduce Ship Strikes to North Atlantic Right Whales.

Also, watch Friends of the Earth in this PBS special: Cruise Ship Trade-Off.

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