The Mediterranean sperm whale population is listed as ‘Endangered”. The Hellenic Trench is the core habitat of the eastern Mediterranean sperm whale sub-population that numbers two to three hundred individuals. Major shipping routes running on or very close to the 1000 m depth contour along the Hellenic Trench are causing an unsustainable number of ship-strikes with sperm whales reviewed in this paper. Sperm whale sighting and density data were combined with specific information on the vessel traffic in the area (e.g., types of vessels, traffic patterns, speed and traffic density), in order to estimate the risk of a whale/ship interaction. Routing options to significantly reduce ship strike risk by a small offshore shift in shipping routes were identified. The overall collision risk for sperm whales in the study area would be reduced by around 70%, while a maximum of 11 nautical miles would be added to major routes and only around 5 nautical miles for the majority of ships. No negative impacts were associated with re-routing by shipping away from sperm whale habitat and there would be additional shipping safety and environmental benefits. A significant contribution to the overall conservation status of the marine Natura2000 sites in the area and very important population units of threatened species such as Cuvier’s beaked whales, monk seals and loggerhead turtles would be achieved, by the reduction of shipping noise and reduced risk of any oil spills reaching the coasts, which are also important touristic destinations in Greece.
Vessel Traffic and Tracking, Shipping, and Ports
The recent decline of the Arctic sea ice cover leads to an increasing number of vessels navigating through the Arctic shipping routes. Ballast water, essential for the vessel's safety during voyages and cargo transfers, however, is also considered one of the main vectors for transport and introduction of non-indigenous species. The aim of this paper is to investigate potential effects of the ballast water discharged in the main Arctic shipping routes on the local environment. For that a passive tracer was implemented in a fine resolution coupled ocean-sea ice model covering the entire Arctic and northern North Atlantic, to simulate the spread of the ballast water discharged based on release points along real ship positions from 2013. The model results showed that spring and summer were the seasons with the highest tendency for accumulation of ballast water tracer on the surface layers south of NovayaZemlyaand south of Spitsbergen, not only due to a higher number of vessels navigating in the area but also due to strong stratification. During winter and autumn, the tracer was mixed with and into deeper layers due to vertical convection. The simulated ballast water accumulation during spring and summer indicated that organisms, that survived the voyage in the ballast tanks, could establish a stable or growing population and eventually become invasive.
Anthropogenic effects have created various risks for wild animals. Boat traffic is one of the most fatal risks for marine mammals. Individual behavioral responses of cetaceans, including diving behavior such as changing swimming direction and lengthing inter-breath interval, to passing boats is relatively well known; however, the social function of cetacean responses to boat traffic in a natural setting remains poorly understood. We focused on describing the behavioral responses of single and aggregated finless porpoises to boats passing at Misumi West Port, Ariake Sound, Japan, by using a drone characterized with a high-precision bird’s-eye angle. During the study period, we collected 25 episodes of finless porpoise responses to boats passing by. A mean (± SEM) of 5.1 ± 1.0 individuals were observed for each episode. The primary response to passing boats was avoidance by dive, which implies boat traffic is a substantial disturbance to finless porpoises that travel along the seawater surface daily. The diving duration decreased significantly with an increase in the number of aggregated individuals. The diving and floating reaction times were 10.9 ± 2.3 s and 18.7 ± 5.0 s, respectively. There was no significant difference between the reaction times indicating that each individual was motivated to keep the group cohesion consistent when floating even after the risk had dissolved, which is comparable to the behavior of porpoises that dive when riskier conditions are present, such as when a boat approaches an aggregation. Our findings provide new insights on the sociality of finless porpoises even though there were limitations, like an inability to identify a specific individual. The drone enabled us to observe the social behavior of finless porpoises and other cetaceans at an unprecedented resolution, which may lead to a better understanding of the evolutionary diversity of intelligence and sociality and the bridge to human evolution.
As the Arctic continues to warm, summer sea ice will continue to recede and a greater expanse of Arctic waters will become navigable. These changes may result in an increase in vessel traffic to the region, including via the Transpolar Sea Route (TSR), through the high seas area of the central Arctic Ocean (CAO). This paper begins with a review of the literature on Arctic vessel traffic to assess the potential effects of various stressors related to vessel traffic in the Arctic Ocean. Available data concerning environmental and safety risks for the Arctic Ocean are used to propose vessel TSR vessel traffic routes that can reduce those risks. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of several examples of vulnerability assessments focused on impacts from vessel traffic in the Arctic as potential models for future work specific to the CAO. The results from this review indicate vessel oiling, air pollution, and noise from icebreakers are immediate concerns to the Arctic Ocean that will likely worsen as the region becomes more navigable and vessel traffic increases. The proposed vessel routes for the Arctic Ocean are meant to serve as a starting point for further discussions before the region becomes fully navigable. As additional data become available, these efforts can be refined further, and a rigorous vulnerability assessment may become possible. Designation as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area under international law could provide a useful mechanism for creating and updating precautionary shipping measures as more information becomes available.
The right to life is a basic and fundamental core human right. Despite the idea that the lives of all human beings are equal under the protection of the law, the special characteristics of the seafarers’ profession suggests that they should be granted additional attention and protection. In recent years, issues related to seafarers’ welfare have moved to the forefront of concern, however, discussion on seafarers’ right to life has drawn little attention. This paper is intended to contribute to knowledge in this aspect by drawing together themes from theoretical policy and governance studies and uses case studies that apply lessons from these disciplines to the practical context of the worldwide shipping industry. Specifically, the discussion clarifies the concept and dimension of the human right to life as well as seafarers’ right to life as a special group of industrial workers, notes the hazardous feature of seafaring as an occupation, identifies the sources of seafarers rights in the related maritime policies and international regulations and illustrates the obligation of the state from the perspective of the ‘flag’ and the ‘port’. The paper finally provides conclusions to the ongoing major issues and suggests a mechanism that should be established to ensure seafarers’ right to life is to be respected.
The importance of corporate social responsibility has been recognized in recent years. This study aims to help a cruise shipping company identify social and environmental issues that present risks and opportunities while taking into consideration the most concerning marine environmental issues to the external stakeholders. A super-slack-based measure model, combined with the Malmquist productivity index, is applied to measure environmental efficiency from 2010 to 2015. Using Carnival Corporation and its subsidiaries as an example, air emissions, water and wastewater, and solid waste are included as undesirable outputs to assess environmental efficiency. The results show that Carnival is not as efficient as its subsidiaries in air emissions but makes significant progress in emission reduction technology and innovation of energy conservation. Similarly, Carnival Corporation and its subsidiaries resolve water pollution and solid waste under the regulation of MARPOL Annex IV and Annex V. Estimating and comparing green practices and green performance, the study provides an objective quantification of environmental measures to better inform shipping companies and maritime society as a whole.
Reactions of singing behavior of individual humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) to a specific shipping noise were examined. Two autonomous recorders separated by 3.0 km were used for the acoustic monitoring of each individual song sequence. A passenger-cargo liner was operated once per day, and other large ship noise was excluded given the remote location of the Ogasawara Islands, 1000 km south of Tokyo. In total, locations of between 26 and 27 singers were measured acoustically using time arrival difference at both stereo recorders on the ship presence and absence days, respectively. Source level of the ship (157 dB rms re 1μPa) was measured separately in deep water. Fewer whales sang nearby, within 500 m, of the shipping lane. Humpback whales reduced sound production after the ship passed, when the minimum distance to the whale from the ship trajectory was 1200 m. In the Ogasawara water, humpback whales seemed to stop singing temporarily rather than modifying sound characteristics of their song such as through frequency shifting or source level elevation. This could be a cost effective adaptation because the propagation loss at 500 m from the sound source is as high as 54 dB. The focal ship was 500 m away within several minutes. Responses may differ where ship traffic is heavy, because avoiding an approaching ship may be difficult when many sound sources exist.
Seabirds select suitable habitats at sea, but these habitats may be strongly impacted by marine spatial planning, including the construction of offshore wind farms (OWFs) and the associated ship traffic. Loons (Gavia spp.) are particularly vulnerable to anthropogenic activities and are also of high conservation status, making them particularly relevant to marine planning processes. We investigated the effects of OWF construction and ship traffic on Loon distributions in the German North Sea on a large spatial scale, using a ‘before–after’ control impact analysis approach and a long-term data set. Many OWFs were built in or close to core areas of Loon distributions. Loons showed significant shifts in their distribution in the ‘after’ period and subsequently aggregated between two OWF clusters, indicating the remaining suitable habitat. The decrease in Loon abundance became significant as far as about 16 km from the closest OWF. Ship traffic also had a significant negative impact on Loons, indicating that OWFs deterred Loons through the combined effect of ship traffic and the wind turbines themselves. This study provides the first analysis of the extensive effects of OWFs and ships on Loons on a large spatial scale. The results provide an essential baseline for future marine spatial planning processes in the German North Sea and elsewhere.
This study assesses vessel-noise exposure levels for Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) in the Salish Sea. Kernel Density Estimation (KDE) was used to delineate SRKW summer core areas. Those areas were combined with the output of a regional cumulative noise model describing sound level variations generated by commercial vessels (1/3-octave-bands from 10 Hz to 63.1 kHz). Cumulative distribution functions were used to evaluate SRKW's noise exposure from 15 vessel categories over three zones located within the KDE. Median cumulative noise values were used to group categories based on the associated exposure levels. Ferries, Tugboats, Vehicle Carriers, Recreational Vessels, Containers, and Bulkers showed high levels of exposure (Leq−50th > 90 dB re 1 μPa) within SRKW core areas. Management actions aiming at reducing SRKW noise exposure during the summer should target the abovementioned categories and take into consideration the spatial distribution of their levels of exposure, their mechanical and their operational characteristics.
Vessel traffic has been increasing rapidly in the Arctic, and within the Canadian Arctic, tourist vessels are the fastest growing maritime sector. Vessel traffic can cause a variety of impacts on whales, including ship strikes and acoustic disturbance. Here, the overlap between tourist vessels (e.g., pleasure craft/yachts and passenger vessels/cruise ships) and whale concentration areas is assessed within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region of the western Canadian Arctic. Different management measures which could be used to reduce impacts on whales are also assessed. Passenger vessels have had a relatively constant overlap with whale concentration areas through time, whereas pleasure craft have had a recent and rapid increase. Passenger vessels may have a greater impact on whales, compared to pleasure craft, since they are larger and travel faster. Excluding vessels from the two marine protected areas in the region would have no impact on whales within concentration areas, since vessels would likely just be displaced to adjacent areas with similar whale concentrations. Restricting vessels to the Canadian government's proposed low-impact corridor may reduce impact slightly, but creating a corridor completely outside of the known whale area could more significantly reduce the potential impact of vessels on whales in those areas. Restricting vessel speed within whale areas would also reduce the impact of passenger vessels, but would not likely reduce the impact of pleasure craft. Overall, a combination of management measures may be the best way to reduce impacts on whales in concentration areas.