NOAA 03-R440
Contact: Ben Sherman
NOAA News Releases 2003
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Sanctuary’s Advisory Council will sponsor a workshop Sept. 3-5, to assess ship strike risks to whales in Hawaii. The council will bring together more than 80 resource managers, scientists and representatives of the marine community to identify possible actions to reduce the occurrence of vessel-whale collision in Hawaiian waters and throughout the National Marine Sanctuary System. The workshop will be held at the Wailea Marriott, an Outrigger Resort, in Maui. NOAA is an agency of the Commerce Department.

“Both NOAA and the marine industry in Hawaii, and across the nation, recognize the potential for an increase in interaction between vessels and whales,” said Daniel J. Basta, NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program director. “We are pleased to work with our partners to address these concerns and seek a solution.”

Speakers will focus on a variety of topics including: the distribution, abundance and behavior of humpback whales in Hawaii; the occurrence of collisions between vessels and whales; why those collisions occur; options for reducing collisions; and economic importance of vessel operations in Hawaiian waters.

The workshop will include working groups that will consider possible means of reducing collisions risks with various types and classes of vessels.

A product of the workshop will be a summary report with recommendations for the National Marine Sanctuary Program on (1) whether the issue of ships hitting whales merits special attention within the National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) generally, and within the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine
Sanctuary (HIHWNMS) in particular, and (2) if so, the research, management and regulatory actions that should be taken in collaboration with other agencies and industry groups to reduce the risks of such collisions.

The workshop’s steering committee includes representatives from NOAA, Matson Navigation Company, Inc., Marine Mammal Commission, Trilogy Excursions, Star of Honolulu/Paradise Cruise Ltd., members of the Sanctuary Advisory Council, and the State of Hawaii.

The shallow, warm waters surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands constitute one of the world’s most important humpback whale habitats. Approximately two-thirds of the entire North Pacific humpback whale population migrates to Hawaiian waters each winter to engage calving, nursing and breeding activities. The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is a partnership of NOAA and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, 13 national marine sanctuaries encompass more than 18,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

NOAA’s National Ocean Service manages the NMSP and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. The National Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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