NGO Urges Carriers to Slow Down around Sri Lanka to save Endangered Whales

Friend of the Sea, an international non-governmental organization, has pointed to the problem of the inreasing number of endangered whales being killed by caargo ship strikes in Sri Lanka, urging the World Shipping Council and the leading carrier lines to prevent the deadly hits in shipping lanes along this countru and worldwide.

Friend of the Sea has urged the World Shipping Council and the top ten shipping companies (NYK, Maersk, Evergreen Marine Corporation, CMA-CGM, MSC, Hapag-Lloyd, APL, Cosco, Hanjin and CSCL) to immediately engage in slowing down their ships to less than 10 knots and move their lanes 15 miles south, possibly creating an Area of be Avoided.

Pigmy blue whales and other whales feed and breed in the area of the Indian Ocean just south of Sri Lanka. The same area is crossed by the most intense cargo ship traffic in the world, with over 5,000 ship crossings per onth, says Friedn of the Sea.

"An estimated 50 to 100 whales are struck to death each year by these vessels," said Friedn of the Sea's director Paolo Bray.

"Pigmy blue whales could be led to extinction in the next few  years if the shipping lines continue to ignore their impact."

Dead whales are often carried on the bows of the 300-meter-long vessels. More whales are found floating or stranded with evidence of having been struck by cargo ships, according to this NGO. In addition, the ships form a "wall of noise" which negatively impacts whales' feeding and breeding behavior.

"The World Shipping Council will be discussing the matter with member companies to consider what actions may be appropriate. We will reach out to the Government of Sri Lanka to obtain their views on the matter," Bryan Wood-Thomas Vice-President of the World Shipping Council, said.

"The shipping industry has greatly reduced its environmental impact over the years. It has also engaged to initiatives to reduce impact on whales in Canada and the USA. It is now time for the industry to approach the issue of whale strikes globally and proactively."

Friend of the Sea says that it will recommend its certified seafood companies to give preference to those shipping lines engaged in preventing whale strikes in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. The requirment will be introduced in the new version of the Friend of the Sea standards.