It’s a silent massacre most people are unaware of. Every year, up to 20,000 whales die because of lethal collisions with vessels. The image of a dead whale stuck in the bow of a vast container symbolizes this tragedy. However, most of the time, their bodies sink without leaving a trace that could show the magnitude of this phenomenon.
Whale ship strikes have now become a significant threat to big cetaceans. Collision skill 20 times more whales than the controversial practice of whale hunting or whaling.
To stop this bleeding, Friend of the Sea, a program from the World Sustainability Organization, has created the Whale-Safe international certification standard to raise awareness of this problem, engage the world shipping industry and reduce lethal collisions.
THE VALUE OF A WHALE
Whales are the biggest animals on the planet. Unique, magnificent, and diverse. Some facts and figures give an account of their importance:
- – Scientifics are still discovering new species and subspecies. Currently, they estimate there are 90 species of cetaceans. That includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises
- – A single great whale is worth more than $2 million, according to a study by the International Monetary Fund, which takes into account the whale’s contribution to carbon capture, the fishing industry, and the whale watching sector.
- – Whales help us fight climate change. A great whale can accumulate an average of 33 tons of CO2 during its life. When they die, that stock of CO2 sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
A NEW THREAT
Ship traffic has increased more than 300 per cent since 1992, according to research with satellite data. It doubles everyten years, putting under pressure the entire ecosystem where whales travel, feed and breed. Worse still, modern vessels have augmented their speed, making it more difficult to avoid a strike if, by chance, they can spot a whale in their path. It is a worldwide phenomenon.
Friend of the Sea has identified 11 high-risk areas for collisions: the Mediterranean Sea, Sri Lanka, Patagonia, Panama, and the Western Arctic. (check out the map onour dossier).
MAKING WHALES SAFE
We can prevent this tragedy with the commitment of the shipping industry, partners, and consumers at the end of the supply chain. For this reason, Friend of the Sea has created the Whale-Safe certification logo to engage all parties in saving the whales.
This certification is awarded to companies that comply with criteria including:
- – Implementing a permanent system of thermal cameras to detect whales.
- – Be part of the online reporting systems to alert of whale presence in a determined zone.
- – Agree to shift shipping lanes and slow speed to reduce the risk of collisions.
Cruise lines, ship operators, and fishing fleets that implement these measures will be identifiable by the Friend of the Sea logo. In turn, everybody can help protect whales by choosing certified operators. Together we can stop the bleeding.