Partners in an initiative to cut air pollution and protect whales
have announced results from the 2017 program and publicly
recognized the 11 shipping companies who participated, reducing
speeds to 12 knots or less in two regions.
For the first time the program included speed reduction zones in
the San Francisco Bay Area in addition to the Santa Barbara
Channel region. The voluntary incentive program started July 1
and ended November 15, 2017.
Automatic Identification System (AIS) data for ship speeds in the
program verified that more than 140 transits were successful in
reducing speeds to 12 knots or less, and more than half of these
were successful in achieving a bonus incentive for slowing to 10
knots or less. The program reduced 83.5 tons of emissions of
nitrogen oxides (NOx), a smog-forming air pollutant, and 2,630
metric tons of greenhouse gases.
In addition,75 percent of the transits that traveled between the
two slow-speed regions did not speed up along the coast in
between (where no incentive was offered), as compared with
previous 2016-2017 baseline speeds for that area; 60 percent
traveled slower than their previous baseline speeds.
Ships account for more than 50 percent of NOx emissions in Santa
Barbara County, more than 25 percent of NOx emissions in Ventura
County, and more than 17 percent of NOx emissions in the
eight-county region represented by the Bay Area Air Quality
Management District. Ship strikes are also a threat to recovering
endangered and threatened whale populations, including blue,
humpback and fin whales. Slowing ship speeds reduces air
pollution and ocean noise, and has been shown to reduce the risk
of fatal strikes on whales.
The following shipping companies participated in the 2017 vessel
speed reduction (VSR) incentive program: CMA CGM; Evergreen;
Hamburg Sud, Hapag Lloyd, Hyundai, K Line, Maersk, Matson, MSC
(Mediterranean Shipping Company); NYK (Nippon Yusen Kaisha) Ro-Ro
Division and Yang Ming. The program is a collaborative effort by
all the agencies and organizations listed above.
"The expansion of the vessel speed reduction program in 2017
demonstrates that ocean commerce and ocean conservation can work
together when the shipping industry, NGOs, and government are in
partnership," said Chris Mobley, Superintendent, NOAA's Channel
Islands National Marine Sanctuary.
"Our national marine sanctuaries provide opportunities to build
innovative partnerships for on-the-water conservation that
protect rare species and the places they call home," said Kris
Sarri, President and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary
Foundation. "The voluntary vessel speed reduction program is one
example of how we can create a win-win for conservation and the
health of coastal communities by engaging shipping companies in
reducing whale mortality from ship strikes and improving air
quality for children while maintaining commerce."
Incentives ranged from $1,000 to $ 2,500; a bonus of $250 was
provided if the ship slowed to 10 knots or less, which is
considered more protective for whales. For the first time, data
were analyzed for the area along the California coast between the
two speed reduction regions.
Highlights of the 2017 program as compared with the 2016 program
included the following:
- The 2017 program was a partnership of three air districts and
four national marine sanctuaries along the California coast,
while the 2016 program was a partnership of two air districts and
- The 2017 Program provided financial incentives for 143 slow
speed transits, nearly three times number of transits incentived
in 2016 (50 transits);
- The 2017 program more than tripled the emission reductions as
compared with the 2016 program.
Mike Villegas, Air Pollution Control Officer of the Ventura
County Air Pollution Control District, said, "Participation by
these shipping lines demonstrates a voluntary incentive program
can significantly reduce emissions in a cost-effective manner.
Further, these reductions in nitrogen oxides are a significant
step towards attaining the state and federal air quality
standards for ground-level ozone in Ventura County. The continued
implementation of the voluntary vessel speed reduction program is
a high priority for our agency."
"We are proud to be partnered with all the organizations in the
Blue Whales and Blue Skies vessel speed reduction program," said
Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air District.
"This cooperative, multi-agency, coastal effort highlights the
impact we can have when we come together with our differing
goals, but find a mutually beneficial solution."
"This program continues to improve, with more agency and industry
partners working together toward shared goals," said Aeron Arlin
Genet, Director of Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control
District. "Most notably in 2017, we successfully expanded the
program to two speed reduction zones and secured pollution
reductions along the California coast in the Santa Barbara
Channel and Bay Area regions. We look forward to what a program
for the entire California coast could achieve."