Friday, December 2, 2011

Saving the Whales in the Santa Barbara Channel!

Recently the U.S. Coast Guard released a Port Access Route Study (PARS) that was originally carried out in order to create new shipping lanes south of the Channel Islands and to address the concerns of environmental groups about the conservation of the endangered blue whales and the humpback and gray whales whose important feeding grounds were located in the shipping lanes. The proposal for new shipping lanes south of the Channel Islands was due to recent complaints by the U.S. Navy that shipping vessels had been navigating through some of their military testing ranges south of the Channel Islands to avoid the strict air pollution laws of California. Establishing new shipping lanes in this area would prevent this safety threat and reduce the number of shipping vessels able to skirt the state’s air pollution laws. In order to alter the lanes so that they are separated from the important whale feeding areas the U.S. Coast Guard has proposed that the lanes be narrowed and moved to area north of the Channel Islands. Environmental groups, including the EDC, who were outraged at the fact that 4 blue whales had been hit and killed by shipping vessels in the Santa Barbara Channel, are happy with the U.S. Coast Guards shipping lane change proposal, but are upset that the proposal does not mention the need for the establishment of lower speed limits through the important marine protected areas of the Channel Islands. They say that lowering the speed limits through these areas will not only reduce the amount of whale deaths but also greatly decrease pollution caused by the shipping vessels.
-Michelle Adams
Original article:
“Coast Guard: Shipping lanes need to be moved to protect whales”. Barboza, Tony. LA Times. November 1, 2011.

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