New Zealand’s shipping industry steps up (and slows down) for whales

A Bryde’s whale in the Hauraki Gulf.It’s always nice to report some good news, so the announcement this weekend that the shipping industry in New Zealand is introducing a voluntary protocol to slow down on passages in and out of Auckland was very welcome.

The measures are being taken to protect the Hauraki Gulf’s resident population of Bryde’s whales from deadly ship strikes. These strikes have taken a heavy toll on the whales in recent years, and research by Dr Rochelle Constantine at the University of Auckland has shown how slowing vessels down offered the best chance of reducing fatalities.

As mentioned in previous posts, IFAW has been supporting efforts to address ship strikes in the Hauraki Gulf, in a collaborative effort alongside researchers, NGOs, the Hauraki Gulf Forum, New Zealand Government, Iwi and industry. The announcement by the Ports of Auckland is a wonderful example of industry taking responsibility and stepping up with a meaningful contribution to protect whales.

Of course, at this stage, the speed restrictions are only voluntary but signals so far are that shipping companies intend to follow them. Over coming months, just as IFAW has done in the North Atlantic, we’ll be tracking the performance of shipping companies and working with them to promote uptake of these new measures.

But for now, at least, thanks to the collaborative efforts of all concerned and the foresight of the shipping industry, the future is looking a little bit brighter for the whales of Hauraki Gulf.

--MC

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