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Shipping Lanes Changed to Protect Endangered Whales

The change is meant to protect endangered whales, like a young Fin whale that was killed by a ship strike and washed ashore in Malibu this month.

Shipping lanes are being pushed further out to sea off the coast of California, as part of an effort to protect endangered whales.

The change is meant to protect endangered whales, like a young Fin whale that died from injuries from a ship strike and washed ashore in Malibu earlier this month.

The Fin whale, which caused a stink and was ultimately towed out to sea thanks to the efforts of Malibu residents, had a broken back, according to the California Wildlife Center.

"Every whale in a small population counts, every whale lost makes a big difference," Sean Hastings, NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, told Santa Barbara-based KEYT.com.

A southbound lane in the Santa Barbara Channel will be shifted a mile north, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The plan applies to shipping lanes approaching the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Francisco Bay. The changes go into effect in 2013, NOAA reported.

The changes were brought about by the efforts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard. The plan has the support of the shipping industry, according to NOAA.

Hans Laetz December 27, 2012 at 11:24 PM
The AP report says the shipping lanes will be moved NORTH away from the northern Channel Islands. That means towards Santa Barbara and Malibu. The Feds are trying to steer the eastbound lane away from the krill-rich whale feeding grounds north of San Miguel Island. The US plan, which the AP implies was adopted by the IMO, will narrow both the east and westbound shipping lanes, plus the separation median, and shift them further north. This will put the big ships closer to the oil platforms. But GPS technology supposedly will prevent crashes. Of course, the real solution would have been the 12 mile per hour speed limit, but the Commerce Department shot that down. This, plus the new offshore smog rules that will divert much big ship traffic to the channel (as opposed too outside the islands), appears to mean lots more ships, closer to Malibu.
Hans Laetz December 28, 2012 at 04:56 PM
The vice president of the Pacific Marine Shipping Assn tells the LA Times that "we would be very skeptical of any mandatory speed reductions, because the science doesn't support it yet." Riiiiight, Whales are road kill and slowing down the ships is not the solution, according to the maritime shippers. I guess the dead whales littering the channel are not scientific enough for the shipping agency. I have seen a car-carrier top 30 miles per hour as it appeared over the horizon and then steamed into Port Hueneme. Pacific Environment, the EDC and others (what some in Malibu have called "enviro-whackos") petitioned the federal government to enact a scientifically-valid 12 mph speed limit in the whale areas. This would also drastically decrease smog, as the big tubs moving past us are the largest collective source of smog in the Santa Barbara channel, including greater Malibu (according to the Ventura County AQMD, during the BHP Billiton battle). Whales in even more danger now. Most L.A.-bound ships had for the past five years or so been bypassing the coastal route, to avoid California smog rules they sailed straight out to sea from the port. Those rules have been extended 200 miles out, so the ships have returned to the local route, right through the whale's buffet line at the Channel Islands. All of us -- me too -- let this happen while we were spending all this energy and attention on the stupid lagoon fight, and other enviro-trivia. Shame on me, shame on us.

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