Whales in danger
North Atlantic right whales are often victims of collisions with large vessels which account for nearly 35% of mortalities. This endangered species currently numbers less than 350 individuals, of which only a few dozen are fertile females.
Scientific research and pressure from NGOs prompted the US government and the International Maritime Organisation to examine the issue in maritime policy. As a result, among other measures, shipping lanes in the Bay of Fundy in Canada were modified twice to limit traffic within whale habitat. Despite these efforts, North Atlantic right whales today are still considered to be the most threatened population in the world.
This population may be the most emblematic, however it is not the only one affected by collisions. Fin whales, humpback whales, blue whales, and Bryde’s whales are also regular victims of these accidents. In the Canary Islands, Hawaii, Japan, and Gibraltar collisions between vessels and large cetaceans are a regular occurrence, and sometimes also affect safety on board certain types of vessels.
The Mediterranean is no exception to this phenomenon. In the north-western basin, 16–20% of whales found dead were killed by a collision, and many living individuals bear scars from these accidents. Collisions are thus considered to be one of the main non-natural causes of mortality for fin and sperm whales in the Mediterranean.
These super predators may be ranked among the mightiest on the planet, but if ecological balances are to be maintained in the Mediterranean, they need to be protected. However, not causing their populations to become unsustainable and thus being able to pass on this natural wealth to future generations, means a huge commitment on all our parts.
The REPCET system was designed to contribute to these conservation objectives with the cooperation of maritime companies. It was developed within the framework of the Pelagos Sanctuary and is designed to be applicable in any similarly affected region.
International Whaling Commission : http://www.iwcoffice.org/sci_com/shipstrikes.htm