World’s 2nd Largest Container Company Reroutes Fleet To Protect Endangered Whales

The world’s second-largest shipping container company is making waves in the industry by re-routing its fleet to protect endangered wheels.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has fleets running a route off the southern coast of Sri Lanka that happens to be a habitat for whales.

Photo: flickr/Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith

Rather than continuing to run through the whale’s habitat and risk striking them with the vessels, the company has decided to re-route completely and protect the species.

MSC announced the re-route in a press release, explaining that the decision was based on research completed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the World Trade Institute, the Biosphere Foundation, the University of Ruhuna, and supported by the World Wildlife Fund.

Off the southern coast of Sri Lanka is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, but it’s also a habitat for whales, including the endangered blue whale.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

According to the IUCN Red List, there are only a few thousand blue whales left in the world and those living in near Sri Lanka’s shipping lane are especially at risk of being hit by a ship.

The IUCN Red List reports, “Blue Whales in a calving ground off southern Sri Lanka appears to be especially subject to ship strikes, as indicated by both direct observations of strikes and strandings that exhibit blunt trauma…and observations of living animals that appear to have injuries that prevent normal swimming…The large volume of ship traffic around the southern coast of Sri Lanka makes it one of the busiest ocean-going shipping lanes in the world, but Priyadasharnha et al. (2016) showed that the expected frequency of ship strikes on Blue Whales would be greatly reduced by moving the lanes slightly further offshore.”

Photo: flickr/Oregon State University

It seems that’s the path MSC is taking by moving its route just 15 nautical miles to the south in hopes of reducing whale-ship encounters by up to 95%.

In the press release, the company explained, “Simulations have shown that moving the official shipping lane 15 nautical miles to the south could reduce the strike risk to blue whales by ask much as 95%.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Stefania Lallai, Vice President Sustainability at MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, said:

“We believe that the commercial shipping sector has an important role to play in protecting cetaceans, specifically in helping to reduce the risk of ship collisions with whales. MSC is proud to rank at or near the top of whale safety shipping rankings. However, we are not at all complacent. We believe that raising awareness of these issues and encouraging collaboration between industry, scientific bodies, civil society and governments is essential as we strive collectively to do more to minimise the risk of ship strikes.”

A lot of companies put the bottom line and profits over the environment and ecosystem, so it’s nice to see such a massive company taking a stand and doing the right thing.

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