The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has started redirecting its ships to shipping lanes off the Sri Lankan coast to save the huge blue whales that have been on a deadly collision course with large ships.
The world’s largest container carrier said it had voluntarily adjusted its routes around Sri Lanka in the northern Indian Ocean to reduce the risk of accidents involving whales, dolphins and porpoises. The container ship has also encouraged other shipping lines to take a more southerly route south of the official Traffic Separation System (TSS) shipping lane to avoid colliding with the endangered mammal. .
Maersk, another major shipping company, is also considering the same, according to the report. The coast, which has an unusually high density of blue whales, is one of the busiest international shipping lanes in the world, where nearly 200 ships transit daily.
Blue whales are non-migratory and reside in these waters year round and have been listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The Geneva-based MSC has adopted a new lane for commercial shipping about 15 nautical miles south of the current TSS. MSC was also the first major shipping company to reroute its ships to the west coast of Greece in January to reduce the risk of collisions with endangered sperm whales in the Mediterranean.
The company said its decision could reduce the risk of a strike by up to 95%.
“We believe that the commercial shipping sector has an important role to play in protecting cetaceans, in particular to help reduce the risk of vessel collisions with whales,” said Stefania Lallai, Vice President of Sustainable Development. at MSC, quoted The Hindu Business Line.
A Maersk spokesman, who is expected to follow suit, said Activity area“We follow all mandatory speed reduction programs at sea and avoid restricted areas to reduce the risk of whale strikes and disruption to whale reproduction, and we have additionally adopted voluntary restriction areas for the protection whales, most recently adding two areas in the Mediterranean Sea.”