Whale protection program begins for Santa Barbara, San Francisco

The following is text of a news release from the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District:

(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) — The partners in an initiative to cut air pollution and protect whales have announced the launch of the 2018 incentive program, which will start July 1 and end Nov. 15, with voluntary vessel speed reduction (VSR) zones in the Santa Barbara Channel region and San Francisco Bay area.

For the 2018 program, financial incentives will be awarded to shipping companies based on the percent of distance traveled by their vessels through the VSR zones at 10 knots or less and with an average speed that does not exceed 12 knots. The 10 knot target was selected by the partnership for consistency. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sanctuaries requests vessels 300 gross tons or larger to slow to 10 knots or less during the months of peak whale abundance to protect whales from lethal ship strikes.

Shipping companies will receive financial awards at different tiers based on their fleet’s adherence to the program criteria. The four award tiers will be bronze, silver, gold and sapphire. Close to $300,000 is available for the 2018 program. Awards will range from approximately $1,000 to $35,000 (or greater in special circumstances) per company.

Ventura County Air Pollution Control District (VCAPCD) is providing $175,000 for the 2018 program from a Supplemental Environmental Project settlement secured through the California Air Resources Board. The balance of funding for the 2018 program is from the other air districts participating, and the Volgenau Foundation.

To participate in the program, companies are asked to submit by June 30 if possible (and no later than July 10) the list of vessels (containerships and roll-on, roll-off vessels) that will be transiting the VSR regions July 1-Nov. 15. Additional information, including maps, materials and signup forms, is available at www.ourair.org/air-pollution-marine-shipping/.

By Professional Mariner Staff