Photo above (on left) aerial photo of two blue whales near the southbound shipping lane in the Santa Barbara Channel, where thousands of container ships (on right) transit every year.

The 2018 Vessel Speed Reduction (VSR) voluntary incentive program ended on November 15, 2018. Shipping companies were recognized at an awards ceremony on March 6, 2019 — see news release. There are VSR zones in the Santa Barbara Channel region and the San Francisco Bay Area; the program ran from July 1-November 15, 2018.  See below for more details on the 2018 VSR Program.  The goals of the program are to reduce air pollution and protect endangered whales.

2018 Shipping Company Participation Documents

Cover LetterSign Up Form
(fillable PDF*)
Letter of UnderstandingZone Maps Report Whale Sightings 

*if you have trouble filling out the pdf in your browser, download the form and open it with your Adboe Acrobat Reader. 

2017 Program Results

Eleven shipping companies slowed to protect blue whales and blue skies, cutting more than 80 tons of smog-forming emissions

The partners announced results from the 2017 program and publicly recognized the 11 global shipping companies who participated, reducing speeds to 12 knots or less in two regions. For the first time the program included speed reduction zones in the San Francisco Bay Area in addition to the Santa Barbara Channel region. The voluntary incentive program started July 1 and ended November 15, 2017. The recognition ceremony hosted by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation took place March 1, 2018 at the Bannings Landing Community Center near the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach.

Partner agencies and organizations: Lisa Fasano Bay Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), Jack Broadbent, Executive Officer, BAAQMD, Mary Byrd, Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (SBCAPCD), Mike Villegas, Air Pollution Control Officer, Ventura County Air Pollution Control District (VCAPCD), Aeron Arlin Genet, Air Pollution Control Officer, SBCAPCD, Kris Sarri, President and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, U.S. Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), William Douros, West Coast Regional Director, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Lisa Volgenau, Volgenau Foundation, Tyler Harris, VCAPCD, Chris Mobley, Superintendent, NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Michael Murphy, BAAQMD

Eleven shipping companies participated in the 2017 Vessel Speed Reduction incentive program, and were recognized at a March 1 event.  Pictured are representatives from ten of the eleven companies:  CMA CGM; Evergreen; Hamburg Sud, Hapag Lloyd, Hyundai, K Line, Maersk, Matson, MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company); and Yang Ming. Not pictured: NYK Ro-Ro Division.

Recent Developments


For more information and background, see Addressing Air Pollution from Marine Shipping