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New Legislation in California Aimed at Creating Reducing Whale Deaths by Ship Strike

Source: Press-Telegram/Rachel Uranga - September 11, 2017 in Politics

New Legislation in California Aimed at Creating Reducing Whale Deaths by Ship Strike
Photo: Craig Hayslip/ Oregon State University/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The 79-foot endangered blue whale that washed ashore in Northern California in May was no match for the ship that hit it. Nor was the 56-foot endangered fin whale found floating near the Port of Los Angeles two years ago.

More than 80 endangered whales a year die from ship strikes off the coast of California, according to a recent study. Many of the carcasses sink to the bottom of the ocean, never to be seen.

“Even a grazing blow by a passing ship can be catastrophic to the whale,” said Sean Hastings, an expert on ocean policy at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’ Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

Now, Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, wants to stem the problem. This week he introduced legislation that would create a special awards program recognizing shippers who slow down along the Santa Barbara Channel, and would call on NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries to look at expanding a pilot program to alter shipping routes all along the Pacific, from the border of Canada to Mexico.

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