Shipping Lanes Were Adjusted June 1st 2013 to Promote Safety of Navigation and Protect Endangered Whales Along California Coast
Busy shipping lanes off the California coast, including routes that cross four national marine sanctuaries, have been adjusted to balance the safe and efficient flow of commerce within and between our nation's ports, with NOAA's goal of reducing whale strikes from vessels.
Download map here. (1.6Mb pdf)
Slow-moving whales are highly vulnerable to ship strikes, since many of their feeding and migration areas overlap with shipping lanes. During the spring and summer of 2013, there were five whales stranded in the Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries. At least one of these five was a confirmed vessel strike.
The San Francisco Traffic Separation Scheme is located within the Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay national marine sanctuaries, as well as prime commercial fishing grounds. The extension and narrowing of the three lanes in the approach to San Francisco Bay is expected to reduce co-occurrence of ships and whales within these national marine sanctuaries. According to the International Maritime Organization decision, the lane extensions will also improve maritime safety in the area by keeping vessels on a dedicated route through prime fishing grounds, which will reduce interaction between fishing vessels and commercial ships.
The Coast Guard maintains a Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) to coordinate the safe and efficient transit of vessels in San Francisco Bay and the San Francisco Traffic Separation Scheme is located entirely within the VTS coverage area.
Read more details in the December 2012 press release announcing the changes.