Acknowledging our expertise in marine shipping and coastal and marine spatial planning, the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council called upon USC Sea Grant for Working Groups focused on ship strikes on whales and the effects of shipping on air quality. Beginning in 2008, when several ship strikes on endangered blue whales took place in Sanctuary waters, efforts have been made to engage the shipping industry on voluntary programs to reduce ship speeds when whales are present in shipping channels. The Education Working Group developed an informational campaign, to inform the industry about hazardous interactions. In 2015, a new Marine Shipping Working Group, co-chaired by Sea Grant’s Associate Director Phyllis Grifman and advised by Dr. Fawcett, is convening a series of workshops to share information on the interactions between whales and ships approaching or departing from the Ports of LA and Long Beach, and to work on mutually agreeable mechanisms for reducing these incidents.
Addionally, 11 universities in Southern California have long shared the Southern California Marine Institute, a small marine laboratory in the Port of LA, but researchers have lacked facilities to conduct high priority marine research and inter-institutional collaborations. The Port and the Annenberg Foundation engaged Dr. Fawcett to conduct a “visioning study,” including outreach meetings with researchers, port communities, and the public, for a new laboratory to be shared by the universities. The “AltaSea” initiative continues with the active collaboration of USC Sea Grant, the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, the California State University system, Occidental College, UCLA and other partners.
Photo of blue whale in Santa Barbara Channel by John Calambokidis, Cascadia Research