The Trump administration announced it would explore ways to protect endangered whales near California ports after environmental groups, citing shipping lanes in Los Angeles and Long Beach, threatened to sue and notified the administration that its shipping regulations violate the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
The Center for Biological Diversity and the Friends of Earth sent a letter to the Trump administration on March 2 notifying officials that they would sue the administration if it continued to ignore evidence that a growing number of whales — an endangered species — are being injured by ships along the California coast.
U.S. Coast Guard officials said Wednesday, April 29, they are consulting with the National Marine Fisheries Service to create new regulations, which may include mandatory speed limits in shipping lanes. The regulations would also protect sea turtles, another endangered species that has fallen victim to ship strikes in California.
At least 10 whales in California were killed in 2018 by ship strikes, which is one of the leading causes of death and injuries to whales who migrate along California’s coast, according to a joint statement from the two environmental groups.
Eighty-eight whales have died from ship strikes in California since 2006, they said.
“Ship strikes are killing too many endangered whales off California’s coast. It’s good to see federal officials finally addressing that threat,” said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Science should guide how shipping lanes are selected and managed. Speed limits on our highways save lives, and we need speed limits in shipping lanes too, to protect endangered marine animals.”
The environmental groups expressed particular concern about shipping lanes that access ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, as well as the San Francisco Bay.