MSC hosted a major international gathering of industry, government, environmental organisations and academia to protect endangered whales at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on 7 November. Organised by the World Shipping Council (WSC), the International Whales Protection Workshop brought together stakeholders from across the world to share knowledge and drive progress on strategies, operational measures and technical solutions that can help ensure the protection of whales.
Over 70 attendees from organisations across the globe came together for the workshop, including WSC members; scientists, researchers and whale experts; senior officials from international organisations and governments including representatives from regulators in Canada, Europe and the US; and environmental organisations, to name just a few.
The event served to share the latest research in cetacean science, review the tools and technologies available today to avoid whale strikes as well as exchange experiences and lessons learned. It also saw the official launch of the WSC Whale Chart, a navigational aid for seafarers mapping all mandatory and voluntary governmental measures to reduce harm to whales.
The workshop saw MSC Group Executive Vice President for Maritime Policy and Government Affairs, Bud Darr, moderate a panel focusing on tools used in our industry to protect whales, with interventions from the IMO, Great Whale Conservancy, Bureau Veritas/Quiet-Oceans and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Later in the day MSC Shipmanagement’s Group Managing Director and CEO, Prabhat Jha, participated in a panel discussing whale protection technologies and sharing our experience using thermal cameras to detect cetaceans.
“We are pleased to have hosted this workshop that brought together key players on such an important topic,” explained Bud. “From rerouting ships to targeted speed reduction and minimising noise, we strive to protect endangered whales worldwide and know the best approach is through collaboration between industry, scientific bodies, civil society and governments to share knowledge, raise awareness and prompt change.”
Taking Action to Protect Whales
MSC has long been a committed advocate for the protection of endangered whales. With the aim of safeguarding their feeding and breeding areas, we were the first in our industry to reroute ships to reduce ship strikes of sperm whales off the coast of Greece and blue whales off the coast of Sri Lanka, and earlier this year we were presented the Sapphire Award for a fifth consecutive year for protecting blue whales in the San Francisco Bay Area. As well as crew training programmes, we utilize data and new technologies to detect and avoid whales. In addition to installing high-resolution thermal cameras on MSC vessels to detect whale activity, we have retrofitted our vessels with propellor boss cap fins which reduce underwater noise.