Ships vs. whales dilemma seems to no longer be a problem in Santa Barbara

With the launch of a new voluntary program that asks cargo ship captains to slow down ship speeds in busy ports and ship lanes, it appears the concern that whales will continue to be struck and killed by boats is on the decrease as shipping companies sign on to the program.

“It’s a very simple but clever solution: When you slow ships down you provide whale conservation and cleaner air for us to breathe here on shore,” said Kristi Birney, marine conservation analyst for the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center, one of the backers of the initiative.

According to the initiative, shipping firms that sign-on to participate in the program will be paid a $2,500 incentive for each low-speed trip they complete through the Santa Barbara Channel. 

A total of 16 low-speed trips through the channel from July through October will be paid for. 

Other areas have also found tactics to reduce or stop ship strikes from occurring as ships cruising to ports on the California coast used new traffic lanes designed to keep ships away from whales. The new lanes ultimately changed the routes of ships used San Francisco Bay, the Santa Barbara Channel and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

As more efforts continue to be made on behalf of whales that are known to feed in busy shipping channels, it is likely the ships versus whales conflict will come to an end. 

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