Date

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Air District and partners in an initiative to cut air pollution and protect endangered whales announced results from the 2019 program and recognized the 15 shipping companies that participated, reducing speeds to 10 knots or less in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Santa Barbara Channel region.

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  • Tuesday,
    8/11

    No Spare the Air Alert in Effect

The voluntary incentive program ran from May 15, 2019, through November 15, 2019. Partners hope to further recognize the companies at a ceremony at the Port of Hueneme later this year, depending on public health guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shipping companies receive recognition and financial awards based on the percent of distance traveled by their vessels through the Vessel Speed Reduction (VSR) zones at 10 knots or less and with an average speed of 12 knots or less. (The average baseline speed of participating ships prior to the incentive program is approximately 15 knots in the VSR zones.) The 10-knot target follows the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) requests for all vessels (300 gross tons or larger) to slow down during the months of peak endangered blue, humpback, and fin whale abundance to protect these whales from deadly ship strikes.

NOAA has identified ship strikes as a leading cause of death; reducing these mortalities is a major priority of NOAA’s, including NOAA’s West Coast national marine sanctuaries. Documented deaths totaled 48 endangered whales from 2007-2019, and likely represent only a small fraction of the total number of ship strikes annually.

The timing of the program also coincides with the season when ground-level ozone (smog) concentrations are typically high. The 10-knot target allows ships to travel at an efficient operating load using less fuel and producing less pollution. Ocean-going vessels transiting the California coast generate nitrogen oxides (NOx, a precursor to smog), sulfur oxides (SOx), particle pollution, and greenhouse gases. These vessels account for more than 200 tons of NOx per day emitted off the coast of California, which affects ozone levels onshore in many regions of the state. The greater Los Angeles area (including Ventura County), San Diego, and San Francisco Bay areas do not meet the state and/or federal air quality standards for ozone.

The program is a collaborative effort by the following agencies and organizations:

  • Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District
  • Ventura County Air Pollution Control District
  • Bay Area Air Quality Management District
  • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
  • Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
  • Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
  • The Volgenau Foundation
  • California Marine Sanctuary Foundation
  • National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
  • Environmental Defense Center 

The 2020 program started on May 15, 2020. For more information, visit www.ourair.org/air-pollution-marine-shipping.

View press release.

Last Updated: 5/20/2020