The 2019 Vessel Speed Reduction (VSR) voluntary incentive program began on May 15, 2019 and ended on November 15, 2019. Results for the 2019 program are being calculated and will be presented at a later date.

The 2020 VSR program is planned to start in May. Application materials for the 2020 program will be available soon.

picture-this-whaleEvery year, container ships and auto carriers make thousands of transits in the shipping lanes in the Santa Barbara Channel region and along the California coast.  These vessels are a significant source of air pollution and ship strikes on endangered blue, humpback, and fin whales.  The Vessel Speed Reduction incentive program is a voluntary program where the District and its partners ask the vessel operators to slow down to a speed of 10 knots or less, which reduces air pollution and fatal strikes on endangered whales.

2019 Shipping Company Participation Documents

Cover LetterLetter of Understanding
/ Sign-up Form
Zone Maps Report Whale Sightings 

* Fillable PDF on page 4. If you have trouble filling out the pdf in your browser, download the form and open it with your Adobe Acrobat Reader. 

2019 Mid-Season Results

October 3, 2019: We’re seeing great participation so far this year! Both Hapag-Lloyd and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) are on track to achieve the Sapphire aware in both regions. These shipping companies have large fleets of container ships that travel through the San Francisco Bay Area and Santa Barbara Channel region, so their commitment to the program is outstanding. Smaller fleets, such as Polynesia Line and Great American Lines Incorporated (GALI) are slowing down to less than 10 knots and are performing at the Sapphire level. We appreciate all of the companies that are participating in the program this year, and with six weeks left in the VSR season, there’s still time for the companies to continue aiming for the highest award levels.

2018 Program Results

Twelve shipping companies slowed to protect blue whales and blue skies, cutting more than 260 tons of smog-forming emissions

The partners announced results from the 2018 program and publicly recognized the 12 global shipping companies who participated, reducing speeds to 10 knots or less in both the Santa Barbara Channel Region and in the San Francisco Bay Area. This year, the program transitioned from incentivizing individual transits to a fleet-based approach, where each company’s entire fleet was asked to slow down to 10 knots or less. The voluntary incentive program started on July 1 and ended on November 15, 2018.

Recent Developments

  • In recognition of this program’s success, California State Senator Scott Wiener included VSR in California Senate Bill 69, which would direct the California Air Resources Board to develop a similar voluntary VSR program in coordination with affected air districts and the national marine sanctuary program. This bill would provide much-needed support from the state.
  • International Maritime Organization initial strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships adopted April 13, 2018
  • 2017 study on ship strikes and whale mortality on the West Coast

For more information and background on the VSR program, see Addressing Air Pollution from Marine Shipping