Photo of blue whale in the Santa Barbara Channel by John Calambokidis, Cascadia Research
See Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies Project to Receive National Clean Air Excellence Award.
See news releases from EPA Headquarters, EPA Region 9, and Congresswoman Lois Capps.
We are working with our partners to implement a 2016 Vessel Speed Reduction incentive program to start this summer; contact Mary Byrd for more information.
See poster from May 2016 Ocean Climate Summit, and April 2016 revised calculations for 2014 VSR Trial in Factsheet and Report.
Addressing Impacts to Santa Barbara County
Large ships are responsible for substantial amounts of worldwide emissions of black carbon, nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter, sulfur, air toxics, greenhouse gases, and substances that deplete ozone in the upper atmosphere. Shipping emissions have been included in District emission inventories since 1994, and the District has been working to raise awareness of the problem and calling for voluntary and regulatory measures to control these emissions. In Santa Barbara County, NOx emissions from ships traveling off our coast are a concern, as NOx emissions are involved in the formation of ozone, and the County does not attain the state ozone standard. A continued focus on marine shipping emissions is also important to ensure the County remains in attainment of the federal ozone standard.
The District and partners are currently working on a second Vessel Speed Reduction incentive program to start the summer of 2016. Reducing ship speeds to 12 knots or lower cuts air pollution and reduces the risk of fatal ship strikes on whales. The 2016 Program will build on the success of the 2014 VSR trial incentive program launched by the District, the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, and the Environmental Defense Center to slow ships down in the Santa Barbara Channel to reduce air pollution and protect endangered whales. The trial was successfully completed November 30, 2014, and results are reported in the Factsheet and Report. See also Blue Whales Blue Skies Media Clips. In September 2014, the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District joined the program, and partners presented a Community Forum (see information below).
In 2015, the District participated in the Marine Shipping Working Group under the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council to work with stakeholders to address ways to protect whales and reduce air pollution in the Channel Region. This group prepared a final report for the Sanctuary Advisory Council, providing information and advice regarding regional marine shipping issues including: ship strikes on endangered whales, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, navigational safety concerns, and conflicts among ocean users. The Marine Shipping Working Group expressed unanimous support for a second VSR program.
Also in 2015 and 2016, the District was a client for a Group Project by Masters Students at the University of California at Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. The group presented findings of its study, titled “The Value of Non-Market Goods: Whale Conservation and Human Health Benefits from Vessel Speed Reduction in the Santa Barbara Channel,” in April 2016. For more information see the project website.
Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies Forum September 2014
- See agenda
- See link to prezi presentation highlighting verified slow-speed transits through August 8, 2014, and whale science information.
- See presentation by Wayne Miller of University of California at Riverside (PDF file) on research showing emission-reduction benefits of ship speed reduction. Also view paper “In-use Emissions Test Program at VSR Speeds for Oceangoing Container Ship.”
Speakers and participants in the forum: (Left to right) Brad Winney, Conserve.IO (Whale Alert developer), Linda Parks, Ventura County 2nd District Supervisor, Mike Villegas, Ventura County Air Pollution Control District, Dave Van Mullem, Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (SBCAPCD), Brian Shafritz, SBCAPCD, Sean Herron, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS), Kristi Birney, Environmental Defense Center, Wayne Miller, UC Riverside, Sean Hastings, CINMS, TL Garrett, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, Steve Gaines, UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, Elgin Pallay, Maersk Line, Sharyn Main, Santa Barbara Foundation, Mary Byrd, SBCAPCD, Mike Murray, CINMS
This free forum was sponsored by Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, NOAA’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, the Environmental Defense Center, and the UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science and Management.
See below for more background information.
- Whale Advisories calling for ships to voluntarily reduce speeds in the Santa Barbara Channel when whales are present are issued periodically by NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.
- The District’s Board was updated on initiatives at a March 2016 meeting, see presentation.
- Some of the media attention these programs have received can be viewed in Blue Whales Blue Skies Media Clips, and article on the Safe Passage project in Santa Barbara Foundation magazine (pp.14-16) .
- The Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organization will leave intact the original 2016 target date for new ship engines to achieve lower NOx limits in the North American Emission Control Area. The District Board submitted a letter calling for the retention of this deadline. See Board memo and letter.
- The District and Maersk Line co-presented February 11, 2014 at the NACAA-EPA 2014 National Air Quality Conference. See presentation titled “Reducing Marine Shipping Emissions: Local and Global Initiatives.”
A September 2013 court decision will leave in place international rules to reduce shipping emissions. See this page for more information.
The District has suggested using AB 32 Cap-and-Trade auction funds to achieve voluntary ship speed reduction off the coast of California. This could reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and a range of other pollutants; it could also reduce the fatality of ship strikes on whales. On March 7, 2013, the District submitted a proposal for a vessel speed reduction incentive initiative to the California Air Resources Board, and on April 23, the District submitted a letter calling for inclusion of the initiative in the final Investment Plan. See April 23, 2013 letter, plus letters supporting the idea of a vessel speed reduction initiative from other agencies, businesses, and organizations. Also see original March 7 submittal with Implementation Plan. The state FY 2013-2014 budget established that these funds would be loaned to the budget, and not expended in this fiscal year; the District is continuing to explore ways to implement this project.
The District has held a series of Marine Shipping Solutions Group meetings. A November 8, 2012 meeting featured Bruce Anderson of Starcrest Consulting Group and Carter Atkins of the Port of Los Angeles. See presentation (PDF). See descriptions of previous meetings in the District newsletter featuring whale researcher John Calambokidis in the summer 2012 issue, and Lee Kindberg of Maersk in the winter 2012 issue. To be added to an email list for information about upcoming presentations, email Mary Byrd.
These web pages provide information on emissions from marine shipping and on the District’s activities in this area. Follow the links below, and continue on this page for general information on shipping emissions in Santa Barbara County.
See “Past Activities” link above to see previous District activities calling for regulations in this area. Recently, several regulations have been issued that will reduce these emissions (see “Initiatives” link above). These regulations will bring about significant reductions in several pollutants in the near term; however, NOx reductions will only be achieved in a long-term timeframe. The District’s current focus is to explore ways to achieve more near-term NOx reductions and additional reductions in other pollutants. See “Local Studies & Actions” and “Technologies and Research” links above for more information.
For more information, contact Community Programs Supervisor Mary Byrd.