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.
Vessel Traffic and Tracking, Shipping, and Ports
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.
Increasing Arctic marine use is driven primarily by natural resource development and greater marine access throughout the Arctic Ocean created by profound sea ice retreat. Significant management measures to enhance protection of Arctic people and the marine environment are emerging, including the development of marine protected areas (MPAs) which may be effective and valuable tools. MPAs have been established by individual Arctic coastal states within their respective national jurisdictions; however, a pan-Arctic network of MPAs has yet to be established despite Arctic Council deliberations. This overview focuses on those MPAs that can be designated by the International Maritime Organization and by international instrument or treaty to respond to increasing Arctic marine operations and shipping. Key challenges remain in the Arctic to the introduction of select MPAs and development of a circumpolar network of MPAs in response to greater marine use: the variability of sea ice; the rights and concerns of indigenous people; a lack of marine infrastructure; application to the Central Arctic Ocean; establishing effective monitoring; and, compliance and enforcement in remote polar seas. Robust bilateral and multilateral cooperation will be necessary not only to establish effective MPAs but also to sustain them for the long term. Reducing the large Arctic marine infrastructure gap will be a key requirement to achieve effective MPA management and attain critical conservation goals.
On June 19, 2015, following a long period of preparation, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution A/69/L.65: 65 “Development of an international legally-binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction”. A preparatory committee will develop draft recommendations in 2016 and 2017. The proposed new instrument will have important implications for the areas beyond national jurisdiction, including the Central Arctic Ocean and therefore for the Arctic governance regime overall. Key components of the “package” of measures discussed during the sessions of the Working Group were area-based management tools, including MPAs; marine genetic resources, including questions related to the sharing of benefits; environmental impact assessments and capacity-building and technology transfer. The potential implication of such a new legal instrument on areas beyond national jurisdiction in the Arctic will be manifold. They will affect shipping and other marine operations. Arctic nations have expressed initial views on the proposed measures but it will in the end be a decision of the international community as a whole to decide on the details of the new Implementing Agreement which will then provide a binding regime for all High Seas areas, including the Central Arctic Ocean.