North Mediterranean area to protect whales from strikes gets IMO nod

Ships urged to go slow to avoid fin, sperm and other whales in rich waters

A part of the Mediterranean, stretching from the Balearic Sea, and towards Italy taking in Corsica is about to be designated a risk area for whale strikes by the IMO. Four countries in the region, Italy, France, Spain and Monaco, put the proposals forward to the Marine Environment Protection Committee, noting that a number of species in the area are endangered and many have signs of suffered ships strikes.


Noted species are the sperm whale, fin whale,  Cuvier’s beaked whale, bottlenose dolphin, and Rissos dolphin. The proposed area brings in existing protected areas including Pelagos Sanctuary and the Spanish cetacean corridors which are already designated as special protected areas of Mediterranean importance.


Any near misses and strikes should be reported and forwarded to the international whaling commission.


Observers have noted that many whales seen in the proposed area already have signs of whale strikes, and the area under consideration sees a high percentage of the Mediterranean sperm and fin whale numbers. 


During IMO discussions the delegation from France points out that collisions between ships and whales, particularly whales are high in North West Mediterranean, and 9% of sperm whales in zone show signs of scaring and growing intensity of shipping and these two species is heightening risk.


The region has a concentration of cetaceans in the region, with scientists recording  up to 70% of the Mediterranean fin whales and half the sperm whales found in the area.


Additional voluntary measures may be asked for.

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