California Unveils Plan to Cut Emissions, Protect Whales

WhaleIllustration. Image Courtesy: Pexels under CC0 Creative Commons license

Partners in an initiative to cut air pollution and protect whales announced the launch of the 2018 incentive program, which will start July 1 and end November 15, 2018, with voluntary vessel speed reduction (VSR) zones in the Santa Barbara Channel region and San Francisco Bay area.

For the 2018 program, financial incentives will be awarded to shipping companies based on the percent of distance traveled by their vessels through the VSR zones at 10 knots or less and with an average speed that does not exceed 12 knots.

The 10 knot target was selected by the partnership for consistency. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sanctuaries request vessels 300 gross tons or larger to slow down to 10 knots or less during the months of peak whale abundance to protect whales from lethal ship strikes.

Shipping companies will receive financial awards at different tiers based on their fleet’s adherence to the program criteria.

“Reducing vessel speeds greatly reduces emissions of smog-forming pollutants, and will help our District attain state and federal air quality standards for ozone (smog),” Mike Villegas, Air Pollution Control Officer at Ventura County Air Pollution Control District VCAPCD, said.

“We are excited to expand the program this year to a fleet-based approach. This will provide enhanced recognition to those companies that make the greatest commitments to improving air quality and protecting whales,” Said Aeron Arlin Genet, Director of Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, said.

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