New policies, and a court ruling, protect whales from ships in SF Bay and along the Pacific coast

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New policies aim to reduce the number of whales struck by ships in the San Francisco Bay.
NOAA

Whales, dolphins, and marine mammals in the San Francisco Bay and along the California coast could be better protected by a federal court ruling on US Navy exercises and new policies being put in place to prevent whales from being struck by ships.

US District Court Judge Nandor Vadas issued a ruling late yesterday (Wed/25) finding that the National Marine Fisheries Service failed to protect thousands of whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals, and porpoises from Navy training exercises along the Pacific coast. It requires the agency to reconsider permits and whether they violated the Endangered Species Act.  

“This is a victory for dozens of protected species of marine mammals, including critically endangered Southern Resident orcas, blue whales, humpback whales, dolphins, and porpoises,” said Steve Mashuda, an Earthjustice attorney representing a coalition of conservation and Northern California Indian Tribes. 

Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, the issue of an increasing number of whales strikes in the bay has been getting some proactive attention from regulators, who have developed safer new shipping polices and a whale tracker application.  

The issue drew attention in 2010 when at least five whales that had been struck by ships beached themselves and died, that is thought to be only a small indicator of a much larger problem.

“According to experts, only about 10 percent of whales killed by strikes show up on beaches,” lead researcher Dr. Jamie Jahncke of Point Blue Conservation Society, which has been working with the Coast Guard on ways to make the bay safer for whales.

The Coast Guard implemented narrower and longer shipping lanes beginning June 1 in San Francisco Bay, as well as in Los Angeles and Long Beach, in an attempt to reduce the number of whale strikes in these regions. The Coast Guard has also begun directing ships to reduce their speed when entering and exiting the bay to no more than 10 knots.

The purpose of the change in the shipping lanes is to keep ships out of primary whale habitats and other areas where they are typically found. Jahncke believes these changes will reduce the interaction between whales and ships by 70 percent.

Both Jahncke and Melissa Pitkin, also of Point Blue, see these new policies as a good thing.

Jahncke called the changes “very positive” and added they are good “for human safety and benefit wildlife as well.”

Pitkin says the Coast Guard “has been a great participant” and part of a “great collaborative effort” to make waters like San Francisco Bay safer for the whales.

While the new shipping lanes keep ships out of areas in which whales are most commonly found, the animals do not confine themselves to only those parts of the bay. Researchers go out on the bay to collect information on where the whales go and congregate, but they are only out there three to five weeks out of the year.

This is why, Jahncke says, they “need additional help… [and] eyes out on the water.”

Researchers have been seeking ways to further reduce the chances of ships striking whales in San Francisco Bay. They have recently decided to enlist the public’s help with the implementation of the new Whale Spotter app, which will allow anyone out on the water to report where they see whales.

The hope is that whale watchers, recreational fishers, and others will use the app to report any whale sightings. Point Blue will then be able to use the information provided via the app to “make maps and represent the data in a way NOAA can use it,” says Jahncke.

Pitkin further addresses the purpose of this app.

“The goal is to get information available in real-time to mariners about where whale concentrations are so they know” how to alter their course or speed.

The app is not the only way members of the public can join in the efforts to protect local whales. Point Blue is seeking financial contributions to aid their effort to raise funds for the app and ongoing marine research. People can visit www.prbo.org/ to make a donation.

Meanwhile, the federal courts are now asking the US Navy and the agencies that permits its navel exercises to also take heed of their impacts to aquatic ecosystems.

“NMFS must now employ the best science and require the Navy to take reasonable and effective actions to avoid and minimize harm from its training activities,” Mashuda said.

The Navy uses a vast area of the West Coast, stretching from Northern California to the Canadian border, for training. Activities include anti-submarine warfare exercises involving tracking aircraft and sonar; surface-to-air gunnery and missile exercises; air-to-surface bombing exercises; and extensive testing for several new weapons systems.

In 2010 and 2012, NMFS authorized the Navy to harm or “take” marine mammals and other sealife through 2015.  The permits allow the Navy to conduct increased training exercises that can harm marine mammals and disrupt their migration, nursing, breeding, or feeding, primarily as a result of harassment through exposure to the use of sonar.

New science from 2010 and 2011 shows that whales and other marine mammals are far more sensitive to sonar and other noise than previously thought.  In permitting the Navy’s activities, NMFS ignored this new information.  The Court found that the agency violated its legal duty to use this “best available data” when evaluating impacts to endangered whales and other marine life.

Comments

I predict a piece on tree-hugging next.

But of course never a piece on pulling down Hetch-Hetchy dam.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 11:45 am

Come on, Steven, let's have your congratulations to Team USA for their thrilling America's Cup victory. The whales will be fine.

Posted by Chromefields on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

He was ready to steal our waterfront using a faux boat race as his fig leaf. A few pesky whales won't stand in the way of his cynical profit seeking.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

Must you hijack every thread?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

Progressives historically have zero sense of humor. They take everything, including themselves, way too seriously, and Chrome is performing a PSA by lampooning that.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 9:56 am

Thank you, guest, your observation is true. The guest above is overly excitable (like a liberal), humorless (like a liberal), and infantilized (like a liberal), thus we can't hold him accountable for his tantrum. Which is precisely what he wants.

Posted by Chromefields on Sep. 30, 2013 @ 6:47 am

The Navy sonor was being tested at 235db. That level of sound in water is sufficient to scramble protoplasm. Humans have instantaneous hearing damage at 170 db. For whales and dolphins that echolocate to survive, it's a long lingering death.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 10:33 pm

The ocean is one big piece of real estate as far as I'm concerned, and in the free market, the best use doctrine says that the best use is determined by whoever has the baddest cruise missiles. Unless the whales and dolphins can find a way to start lobbing cruise missiles, they're SOL.

Posted by anon on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 8:09 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 8:50 am

After that, it's fair game for everyone, which is why Japan, Norway, Russia etc. are still catching whales.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 9:56 am

But once they finally figure out how to launch cruise missiles, I for one shall welcome our new Cetacean overlords.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 8:50 am

bald and fatty
gone quite batty
worn out leather daddy
chromefields

Posted by pete moss on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 10:49 am

Please adopt a formal structure to your witticism unless it is so funny that it doesn't need it, which it isn't and does. Like this:

There was a sad troll called Pete Moss,
Whose demeanor was bitter and cross,
He had no home,
And lived like a gnome,
He's the consummate total loss

See?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 11:18 am

I dunno, guest.

Your rhymes aren't bad but your rhythm and meter are way off.

Don't quit your day job.

Posted by pete moss on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

There was an old hobo called Pete,
Who had to live on the street
He could get no job
Cuz he looked like a yob
But he sure could whine and bleat.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

Keep trying.

There was an old poser named guest
who never could give it a rest
on the strength of 1 bean
he'd fart 'God Save the Queen'
in the end all he made was a mess

By the way I probably have a better job then you. And my home is featured in a photo shoot on a website.

Not that I'd share the pix with someone like you.

Posted by pete moss on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 7:27 am

Now you claim to have a home featured on Architectural Digest?

Keep those lies coming.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 7:42 am

The nuanced complexity of my living situation is probably beyond your comprehension.

I am flattered that you are apparently following my posts rather closely.

I try to make it easy by consistently using a unique and recognizable screen name.

Your clumsy effort to elicit information on where pix of my fabulous abode can be viewed falls flat.

Posted by pete moss on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 8:27 am

Your observation that I have been following your posts proves that you know that you admitted being homeless here. If you're going to tell lies, you need a good memory.

I'm sure there are images somewhere about your "fabulous abode". Whether that is a SRO, an ageing VW camper van, or a cardboard box remains a valid question.

Not that there is any shame to being homeless. There is shame to lying about it.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 8:53 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 9:42 am
Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 10:07 am

I think the exchange you are referring too was between myself and 'Voltaires Mistress' about half a year ago.

I stated that I was unconventionally housed, but not actually homeless, but that City bureaucrats didn't recognize the distinction, which I find annoying.

Voltaires Mistress agreed that bureaucrats can sometimes be rather obtuse.

Posted by pete moss on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 10:46 am

box in a park has a home - the box.

So let's just agree that you are under-housed and that the city regards you as technically and definitionally homeless.

So the idea that your home is features in glossy magazines or high-end websites remains untrue.

Posted by anon on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 10:58 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 11:10 am

I recall pete implying he was homeless too. It's only important to me since I would tend to value his thoughts and ideas about homeless programs and services much more seriously compared to the rants of the usual jerk-offs like anon, lilli and others who post here constantly because they have nothing better to do with their time. Maybe the post was more nuanced as pete is saying and I read it too fast, but a little accountability is never a bad thing. Since he's challenging your memory, find the post before making your claims about him lying.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

admitted saying or implying that he was homeless, and moreover you recall it as well.

It may give him a particular insight into issues around homelessness, but not that those insights are any more likely to be unbiased. I'd probably guess that he supports more resources for the homeless - duh.

But I had no problem with that until he started claiming that he has a home featured in Architectural Digest or Harpers or Home and Garden or whatever. Lying definitely discredits a poster.

If he claimed to be homeless only to try and sound more credible in a thread on homelessness, that is bad. Not remembering the lie and slipping up smacks of carelessness as well as malice.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 3:14 pm
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