Shippers get paid to slow down for California whales

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Wildlife advocates and air-quality regulators have come up with a plan they hope will help solve two environmental problems at once: They’re going to pay shipping companies to slow down cargo vessels through the Santa Barbara Channel to avoid collisions with blue whales and reduce smog.

The shippers will be paid $2,500 for each trip completed at 12 knots or fewer between Point Concepcion and the ports of L.A. and Long Beach. That’s a stretch of 130 miles.


Six international shipping companies have signed up for the voluntary program so far.

It’s believed that dozens of endangered blue, humpback and fin whales have been killed in ship collisions in recent years. Slower speeds are expected to reduce the carnage. Biologists are also pushing for changes in shipping lanes to avoid areas with a lot of whale activity.

The huge cargo ships are also a major source of air pollution in Southern California: A recent U.C. Irvine study showed that emissions can be reduced by half when ships slow to 12 knots.

Read more about the danger that ships pose to whales off the California coast: