Safeguarding Whales and the Ocean Ecosystem

Collisions between whales and ships, a pressing issue in the Atlantic Ocean, is the focus of a new initiative led by The Centre for Marine and Environmental Sciences/Regional Agency for the Development of Research, Technology and Innovation (Mare-Madeira/ARDITI), which aims to deploy cutting-edge technologies that promise to significantly reduce these incidents.

By reducing collisions between ships and whales, the Atlantic Whale Deal project aims to bolster carbon sequestration, thus helping in the mitigation of the effects of global warming. Moreover, this mission takes on added urgency in the face of a 85% decline in whale biomass due to industrialised whaling. The project also addresses our limited knowledge of whale distribution, encompassing their feeding and breeding areas, as well as migration routes. With 15 partners spanning various countries, the project will undergo rigorous pilot testing in the Canary Islands, Azores, and Ireland.

Whales play a pivotal role in climate regulation. Research by the International Monetary Fund highlights that each large whale sequesters an average of 33 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) — a staggering contribution compared to the 2.2 tons captured by plants over a century. Known for their extensive migrations, large whales render localized challenges a global concern. The Atlantic Whale Deal leverages collision risk maps and statistical models to predict the likelihood of whale collisions with various types of vessels throughout the Atlantic. This data is invaluable, not just for governments but also for the maritime industry, as it enables the implementation of measures to safeguard these majestic creatures and establish safer navigation routes.

Recent research reveals 583 reported collisions between 1820 and 2019 in the Atlantic. Yet, experts caution that the actual numbers may be far higher, given the vastness of the ocean, the remoteness of these occurrences, and underreporting.

Via Jornal Económico