Stop the Ship Strikes on Blue Whales

Dear Supporters of the GWC campaign to protect Blue Whales in the North Pacific from ship strikes,

The following petition/letter has been drafted (and submitted) by the Great Whale Conservancy.  Please read this letter, sign your name and contact information and submit the letter by clicking the SUBMIT button, or draft your own letter and send it to the names and email addresses listed below for the Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

This petition/letter is being circulated to millions of people in the United States and around the world.  Please encourage everyone you know to sign the GWC petition/letter or write their own letter in support of the Blue Whales by posting it on your websites, facebook pages, and sharing it through your own email address books.  Our goal is to have 100,000 letters reach the Obama Administration by Earth Day, (April 22nd) 2013.

For more information on this ongoing tragedy of ship strikes on Blue Whales go to the campaign page on our website.  And thanks for signing the petition below .

View the new GWC ship strike video.

If the whales could talk, they would thank you.

Gershon and Michael, co-Directors of the Great Whale Conservancy

 

The letter will be sent to the following individuals:

Dr. Kathryn Sullivan
Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
kathryn.sullivan@noaa.gov

Michael Boots, Chair
White House Council on Environmental Quality 
chair@ceq.eop.gov

Commandant Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr.
United States Coast Guard
robert.j.papp@uscg.mil

Raymond Mabus Jr.
Secretary of the Navy
r.mabus@navy.mil

Re:  Establishment of Commercial Shipping Lanes Through the Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station Waters

To:  NOAA Administrator Dr. Lubchenco, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Sutley, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Papp, and Secretary Mabus of the U.S. Navy

I am writing to ask the Obama administration to act now to protect endangered Blue Whale populations from ship strikes that occur every year along the California coast.  From July through October, the world’s largest subpopulation of Blue Whales (about 2,500 individuals) migrate to productive areas along the continental shelf edge offshore of California to feed on massive blooms of krill.  Unfortunately for the whales, some of these areas overlap with one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes leading to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  Cargo ships, oil tankers, and cruise ships transit directly over the whale’s critical feeding habitat as they move millions of tons of people and goods along the California coast and between Asia and the United States.  
The cost to the shipping industry of moving the transit lanes away from these critical feeding areas would be minimal.  Yet every year more whales are killed: rammed by the giant ships or cut to ribbons by their massive propellers.  Current efforts to encourage voluntary slow-downs of vessels transiting the Santa Barbara Channel have been ineffective with no noticeable change in speeds.  Industry representatives have stated their willingness to move the shipping lanes provided the new lanes apply to all users.  The specific path is of less concern than the assurance there will be uniform rules for the entire maritime industry.
The Coast Guard acknowledged the need to move the shipping lanes to protect the whales in its Port Access Route Study of September 2011.  While the shift in the lanes recommended by the Coast Guard was insufficient to adequately protect the whales, the effort was hamstrung by objections from the U.S. Navy because the most advantageous shift of the transit lanes would reroute the ships further south through Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station waters.  In fact, oil tankers have routinely transited through these waters for years, as well as many cargo ships from 2010-2011 seeking to avoid requirements to burn cleaner fuels.  There can be no reasonable objection by the Navy to the seasonal designation of shipping lanes through these waters.
The U.S. government must act to protect the endangered Blue Whales from the threat of extinction.  A century ago, Blue Whale numbers were reduced by commercial whalers from ~350,000 animals to the ~10,000 alive today.  While an international moratorium on the hunting of Blue Whales has been in effect since 1966, death by ship strikes is no less lethal, and the number of Blue Whales using waters of the U.S. West Coast has failed to rebound.  Further losses and reduction in the genetic diversity of the species could be disastrous.
Similar issues have recently been addressed along our N.E. Atlantic Coast regarding protections for the North Atlantic Right Whale.  Transit lanes and speed adjustments fought by the shipping industry for more than half a century are now in place.  Only 500 North Atlantic Right Whales remain and the long-term chance for their survival is slim.  
We must not wait until only hundreds of Blue Whales remain in the N. Pacific before acting on their behalf.  Ships currently using the Santa Barbara Shipping Channel can safely travel on the south side of the Northern Channel Islands and avoid the most critical Great Whale feeding habitat.  The administration must move as quickly as possible to open the Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station waters to commercial shipping traffic, at minimum for the months of July-October.  I respectfully request that you, in your capacity within the Obama administration, publicly support this proposal and encourage President Obama to help protect the Blue Whales for this and future generations.

Sincerely,

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