What does the future look like?
It will be of utmost importance that the issue is coordinated on governmental levels and within the context of relevant agreements and multinational organizations. But there is still a long way to go. Still, the shipping industry is developing ever larger and faster vessels and shipping traffic is expected to further grow in the future. Contrastingly, very little is known about sound propagation and projection into the sea by large vessels including high speed ferries.
Also, sailing regattas and so called ocean races are becoming more and more popular, and modern yachts are becoming faster and faster too, at peaks reaching up to 40 knots (see also section on sailing vessels).Today, we know so little about the manifold complex relationships that a precautionary approach is warranted. As long there is some doubt, we have to act wisely on the side of marine conservation, always thinking in the long term. After all, it is not shipping alone that is threatening marine mammals. Overfishing, bycatch, directed hunts, pollution, habitat degradation and climate change are severe and growing problems too.
M.E.E.R. developed a list of recommendations to act as a guideline for decision makers in politics and economics to counter the problem of vessel-whale strikes:
- As a priority, speed limitations and dedicated on-board observers have to be implemented, at least within high risk areas and on high speed vessels.
- Shifting shipping routes should be considered wherever possible. Regattas and Ocean Races should generally avoid areas with known high cetacean abundance.
- Likewise, mandatory reporting of ship strike cases is important, both regionally and internationally, as soon as a collision has happened.
- Educating vessel crew about the issue of vessel-whale strikes and according mitigation measures should become a standard.
- If public education takes place and recommended procedures are provided, marine conservation can be stimulated.
- It appears important to develop and test technical mitigation measures to assess their efficacy.
- Further research into abundance and distribution of cetaceans is paramount for the identification of high risk areas.
- Finally, we recommend the establishment of further regional or international forums and round tables where stakeholders (ferry operators, politicians, Scientists, NGOs, tourism planners, etc.) discuss mitigation measures.
Further Reading / INTERNET-LINKS
International Whaling Commission (IWC)
Background information & data base to report collisions…
References & Sources
ACCOBAMS 2005. Report of the Joint ACCOBAMS/Pelagos Workshop on Large Whale Ship Strikes in the Mediterranean Sea, Monaco, 14-15 November 2005. SC/58/ For Info-37, pp 35
De Stephanis, R. and Urquiola, E. 2006. Collisions between Ships and Cetaceans in Spain. Int. Whal. Commn. Scientific Committee. SC/58/BC5
Gobierno de Canarias 2009: Activities on Cetaceans carried out by the Canary Islands government in 2008 and Review of Historic Data Records of Cetaceans and Ship Strikes in the Canary Islands. Int. Whal. Commn. Conservation Committee IWC61/CC16.
IWC. 2007. Second Progress Report to the Conservation Committee of the Ship Strike Working Group. Int. Whal. Commn. Scientific Committee IWC/59/CC3.
IWC. 2008. Third Progress Report to the Conservation Committee of the Ship Strike Working Group. Int. Whal. Commn. Scientific Committee IWC/60/CC3
IWC. 2009. Fourth Progress Report to the Conservation Committee of the Ship Strike Working Group. Int. Whal. Commn. Scientific Committee IWC/60/CC11.
IWC. 2010. Fifth Progress Report to the Conservation Committee of the Ship Strike Working Group. Int. Whal. Commn. Scientific Committee IWC/60/CC10.
Knowlton, A.R. and Kraus, S.D. 2001. Mortality and serious Injuryof Northern Right Whales (Eubalaena glacialis) in the Western North Atlantic Ocean. Journal for research and Management (Special Issue) 2, 193-208.
Koschinski, S. 2002. Ship collisions with whales. Information document presented at the eleventh meeting of the CMS scientific council. 14-17 September 2002, Bonn/Germany. UNEP/ScC11/Inf.7. 19 pp.
Laist, D.W., Knowlton, A.R., Mead, J.G, Collet, A.S., and Podesta, M. 2001. Collisions between Ships and Whales. Marine Mammal Science 17(1):35-75.
Pesante, G., Collet, A., Dhermain, F., Frantzis, A., Panigada, S., Podestà, M. And Zanardelli M. 2002. Review of Collisions in the Mediterranean Sea. In: Pesante G., Panigada S. and Zanardelli M. (eds). Proceedings of the Workshop: Collisions between Cetaceans and Vessels: Can we find Solutions? 15th Annual Meeting of the European Cetacean Society in Rome, 2001. ECS Newsletter No. 40:5-12 (Special Issue).
Panigada, S., Pesante G., Zanardelli,. M., Capoulade F., Gannier, A. and Weinrich M.T. 2006. Mediterranean Fin Whales at risk from fatal Ship Strikes. Marine Pollution Bulletin 52:1287-1289.
Ritter, F. 2007. A Quantification of Ferry Traffic in the Canary Islands (Spain) and its Significance for Collisions with Cetaceans. Int. Whal. Commn. Scientific Committee SC/59/BC7.
Ritter, F. 2009. Ship strikes between sailing vessels and cetaceans: First insights into a seemingly growing problem. Int. Whal. Commn. Scientific Committee SC/61/BC1.
Tejedor, A., Sagarminaga, R., Canadas, A., De Stepanis, R. & Pantoja, J. 2007 Modifications of Maritime Traffic off southern Spain. Int. Whal. Comm. Document SC/59/BC 13.
Vanderlaan, A.S.M. and Taggart, C.T. 2007. Vessel Collisions with Whales: The Probability of lethal Injury based on Vessel Speed. Marine Mammal Science, 23.1 : 144-156.
Van Waerebeek, K., Baker, A.N., Félix, F., Gedamke, J., Iniguez, M., Sanino, G.P., Secchi, E., Sutaria D., van Helden, A. and Wang Y. 2007. Vessel Collisions with Small Cetaceans Worldwide and with Large Whales in the Southern Hemisphere. An Intitial Assessment. LAJAM 6(1): 43-69.
WDCS, 2006. Vessel collisions with cetaceans: What happens when they don’t miss the boat? WDCS Science Report, Chippenham, UK, 25pp.