IMO Adopts Proposal for Increased Whale Protection

IMO Adopts Proposal for Increased Whale Protection

The IMO adopted a U.S. proposal for the increase of whale protection off the California coast.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted a U.S. proposal for the increase of protection for endangered blue, fin and humpback whales off the California coast, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The proposal is expected to be effective in the summer of this year.

In addition, it will also expand the areas that vessels should avoid to provide more space for the whales as well as extend vessel traffic lanes “in the west if, in, and around NOAA’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.”

According to NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Director John Armor, the IMO’s decision will “IMO’s decision will enhance navigation safety and improve protection of whales.”

“These adjustments demonstrate a successful collaboration between the United States, the IMO and the global shipping community,” he added.

The NOAA emphasized that the IMO’s decision to adopt the proposal will enhance navigation safety and protect the whales from ship strikes in the area “containing some of the highest densities of commercial maritime traffic in the world.”

Moreover, the agency noted that the 13-nautical-mile extension of vessel traffic lanes called the “traffic separation scheme” will result in “vessels lining up for port entry farther west and away from the continental shelf, in deeper waters where there are lower concentrations of whales.”

NOAA said the area to be avoided by vessels is expanding by more than 2,000 square nautical miles. It will also cover an approximate total of 4,476 square nautical miles of whale feeding habitat off Point Conception and Point Arguello in Santa Barbara County, California.

NOAA partnered with the U.S. Coast Guard in the submission of the proposal to the IMO in 2022. The modifications were originally recommended by the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council’s Marine Shipping Working Group in 2015.