• Home
  • News
  • MSC takes action to save endangered whales in the Mediterranean
  • 2022 January 30 11:49

    MSC takes action to save endangered whales in the Mediterranean

    The area of most concern is currently a major container shipping route

    MSC says it is the first major shipping line to re-route their ships on the west coast of Greece to reduce the risk of collision with endangered sperm whales in the Mediterranean. After discussions with four major environmental NGOs, the company decided to take swift action and re-route all of their container vessels in this area to safeguard the critical habitat for the subpopulation of whales. Critical action like this is urgently needed in order to protect the remaining 200 to 300 individuals that remain.

    The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), OceanCare and WWF Greece are working in collaboration with the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute, which has been studying the eastern Mediterranean sperm whale population since 1998. These studies have identified the Hellenic Trench, to the west and south of the Peloponnese and southwest of Crete, as critical habitat for these whales. These deep diving whales are found here year-round - the only area where family groups have been observed in the eastern Mediterranean, and they concentrate around the 1000m depth contour - directly in the path of busy shipping routes.

    “As a global leader in container shipping and logistics, we have a responsibility to ensure that our cargo operations make a positive impact, reflecting our longstanding commitment to conserving and protecting the ocean and marine wildlife,” said Stefania Lallai, Vice President of Sustainability at MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company. “Collaborating with NGO partners is key to understanding and taking action to protect endangered sperm whales along the Greek coast.”

    The area of most concern is currently a major container shipping route, making this re-routing a substantial contribution to the survival of these at-risk whales.

    “The whales found dead on the shore with propeller marks and cuts are just the tip of the iceberg. Up to 20 times more die offshore and are never recorded. We are also seeing fewer whales in our yearly research surveys than in previous years, which is a huge concern”, explains Dr. Alexandros Frantzis, Scientific Director of the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute. “It is our fear that without urgent action, deaths through ship strikes will cause this already small population to go extinct very soon”.

    “By making small re-routing changes, MSC is making a significant difference for these endangered whales. This population is at risk and even one ship strike is one too many. Now we need other shipping companies to show similar leadership – if all ship traffic using this area made these minor adjustments, the ship strike risk to sperm whales would be reduced by almost 75 percent,” comments the NGO coalition. “Ship re-routing is required now to change the course for sperm whales in the eastern Mediterranean''.

    Background about the project

    More than half the sperm whales found stranded on the Greek coast show evidence of vessel collisions, known as ‘ship strikes’. This is the highest proportion of deaths caused by ship strikes that is known of for any whale population globally. Most collisions are fatal but some live animals carry scars from encounters with ship propellers. Evidence from other areas shows that only a very small proportion of ship strikes are detected and reported. In many incidences, mariners on large ships are unaware that they have hit a whale.

    Earlier this year, the Greek Ministry of Defense through the Hellenic Hydrographic Office in collaboration with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy and the Greek shipping industry issued an official notice informing mariners about the presence of marine mammals in the Hellenic Trench. The NAVTEX (NAVigational TEleX) warning instructs mariners to look out for whales and try to avoid collisions with them.

    Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), well known from the legendary tale Moby Dick, belong to the group of toothed whales and can dive to around 2000 metres. Male sperm whales grow to around 16 metres long (some individuals even up to 20 metres) and can weigh up to 41 tonnes. Outside of the Mediterranean, sperm whales are listed as ‘Vulnerable’, but due to its small size and geographic isolation, the Mediterranean population is listed as 'Endangered' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

    The NGO coalition working on this issue consists of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), OceanCare, the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute and WWF Greece with the support of the WWF network.

    MSC helps protect whales around the world

    Among MSC’s activities to protect the ocean environment and life below water include protecting endangered whales, such as right whales (off the US east coast) and blue, humpback and fin whales (off the US west coast) and southern resident killer whales (Canada).

    In 2020 - for the third year in a row - we received the highest (Sapphire) Award for ‘Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies’ vessel speed reduction incentive programme (joint effort by Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, Ventura County Air Pollution Control District and Bay Area Air Quality Management District partnering with the US NOAA’s Channel Islands, Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries, the California Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the Volgenau Foundation).

    As in previous years, MSC continues to participate in the annual ‘Haro Strait and Boundary Pass voluntary vessel slowdown’ to reduce underwater noise to support the recovery of endangered southern resident killer whales.




2022 August 17

18:37 NFE and Apollo funds complete $2 bln LNG maritime joint venture
18:07 Steerprop to supply a complete propulsion package for first-of-its-kind Wind Installation Vessel
17:31 Svitzer brazil strengthens fleet with two newbuilds
17:23 SFL Corporation agrees to acquire four Suezmax tankers in combination with long term charters
17:12 TransContainer obtains 58.51% of SASCO stake
17:09 SCHOTTEL RudderPropellers to power world’s first hydrogen tug
16:47 Traffic along Rhine further hindered after vessel's engine failure - Reuters
16:14 Iranian company Khazar Sea Shipping Lines launches regular Caspian services between Iran and Russia
15:56 New E-Flexer ferry Stena Estelle takes up operation on 4 September
15:35 SCZONE signs MoU with Toyota Tsusho for infrastructure projects
14:55 Port of Hamburg's total throughput up 0.9 percent to 4.4 million TEU in H1 2022
14:35 Saudi Ports register 16% growth in cargo volumes in July 2022
14:25 Throughput of Chinese sea and river ports in 7M’2022 climbed by 0.1% YoY
13:13 RUSCON launched multimodal service between Japan and Kazakhstan
12:41 DFDS reports strong Q2 results and upgrads its outlook for the full year
12:11 Philippine Ports Authority net income up 9% in 1H 2022
11:42 New floating production unit delivered to ABS Class
11:26 NYK Tokyo Container Terminal starts operations of four transfer cranes
10:58 Global Ports Holding signs 30-year concession agreement for San Juan Cruise Port, Puerto Rico
10:09 Port of Long Beach releases the Deep Draft Navigation Integrated Feasibility Report
09:41 Crowley secures subcontract for hybrid-electric ferry
09:38 Delo Group acquired Sakhalin Shipping Company
09:17 Crude oil futures rise after a fall at the previous session
08:55 MABUX: Global bunker prices to continue firm downward trend on Aug 17

2022 August 16

18:11 Viktor Chernomyrdin icebreaker officially received the status of a passenger ship
17:55 Sailing ship Mir takes on board second shift of cadets this year
17:36 Wan Hai Lines acquired four 3,000 TEU containerships from CSBC Corporation
17:06 Gulf Navigation seals refinancing deal for 5 petrochemical tankers
16:42 ABP appoints the lead for Port Talbot Transformation Programme
16:23 Port of Singapore bunker sales in 7M’2022 fell by 8.6% YoY
16:04 More than 500 workers of the port of Liverpool to strike over an ‘inadequate’ pay offer - Unite
15:38 Port of Singapore throughput in 7M’2022 fell by 3.7% to 339.1 million tonnes
15:14 Reefer container freight rates stabilise but to outpace dry box pricing - Drewry
15:04 A.P. Moller - Maersk to adopt Viking’s HydroPen container firefighting system
14:49 Port of Helsinki throughput in January-July 2022 rose by 8.4% YoY
14:30 Suez Canal Authority and Maersk sign bilateral cooperation agreement
14:20 GoodFuels’ Asia-Pacific branch starts sustainable biofuel deliveries with NYK as first client
14:03 Paxocean, Hong Lam Marine and Bureau Veritas sign Mou to develop ammonia bunker vessel design
13:31 Korea’s automobile exports top US$5bn in July - BusinessKorea
13:02 Ship travel passenger numbers in Helsinki late summer up to 80% of pre-COVID levels
12:38 Equinor extends contracts for AHTS’s in Norway and Brazil
12:37 Vladivostok Sea Fishing Port included into China’s list of Russian fishery products suppliers
12:01 Maersk and Castlery sign multi-year global logistics and fulfilment agreement
11:48 IAA PortNews to hold discussion on fish ports development and fish delivery logistics at Seafood Expo Russia
11:30 Steerprop to supply a complete propulsion package for first-of-its- kind wind installation vessel
11:01 Kalmar and Tropical Shipping strengthen long-term relationship with new order for straddle carriers
10:20 Eneti announces sale of shareholding in Scorpio Tankers
10:09 Ocean Network Express connects to CargoWise to enable automatic digital rate transfer
09:37 Freeport of Riga increased its cargo turnover in 7M’22 by 13.1% YoY
09:18 MABUX: Downward trend returns back to Global bunker market on Aug 16
09:14 Crude oil futures continue decreasing after a fall due to reduction of demand in China
09:13 Furetank and Algoma establish joint venture to construct four climate friendly dual-fuel product tankers

2022 August 15

18:26 Fujian MSA and Fishing Authorities announce the 1st batch of hgh risk warning areas of collision between merchant ships and fishing boats
18:06 Port digitisation project at APM Terminals Liberia set to improve efficiency and ease of doing business
17:55 Vladivostok Sea Fishing Port to convert one of its berth into container storage yard
17:26 King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam breaks container throughput record in June
17:06 Keppel O&M wins US$2.9bn newbuild FPSO P-80 contract from Petrobras
16:41 Zero-carbon fuel readiness on the rise but challenges remain - LR
16:20 Container throughput of Hong Kong port (China) in 7M’2022 fell by 4.3% to 8.65 million TEU
16:01 De-Kastri port to handle four ships loaded with oversize cargo for Amur Gas Chemical Complex in 2022