Efforts by a non-government organisation (NGO) to get containerlines to slow down when transiting south Sri Lanka and to transit the area further south to protect whales in the area have thus far fallen on deaf ears.
Pigmy blue whales and other whales feed and breed in the area of the Indian Ocean just south of Sri Lanka. The same area is crossed by more than 5,000 ships per month. Not only do whales die from colliding with these ships, but the sound from the vessels affects breeding and the local ecosystem, according to Friend of the Sea’s founder and director Paolo Bray.
This July the NGO made contact with the World Shipping Council (WSC) as well as the top 10 boxlines and Sri Lankan authorities to try and get them to take up the matter. The deadline for giving a proposal to the International Maritime Organization passes on November 27.
Friend of the Sea has urged the World Shipping Council and the top ten liner companies to immediately engage at slowing down their ships to less than 10 knots and move their lanes 15 miles south, possibly creating an area to be avoided.
“The WSC is not collaborative enough,” Bray told Splash. “We have sent the document to be sumbitted to the Sri Lanka government, but I am afraid with no pressure from the media nor from the WSC, this will not happen in time.”
“Each year, the estimated 300 whales feeding near the southern coast of Sri Lanka are hit over 1,000 times by up to 300 m long vessels. 50 of these strikes are likely to be lethal for the rare pygmy blue whales. 2016 could be the year of no return for the whales in the area,” Bray warned.