Whale Protection: Hapag-Lloyd upgraded from Gold to Sapphire Status

For several years, Hapag-Lloyd has been involved in the “Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies” programme to protect marine life and reduce air pollution in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Santa Barbara Channel region. Our commitment and ambitious measures in 2023 paid off: being over 80 percent compliant with the maximum speed of 10 knots in designated areas raises our tier from gold to sapphire, the highest possible category.

Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies is a voluntary vessel speed reduction (VSR) programme along the California coast, initiated by several non-profit organisations like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Sanctuaries, California air pollution control districts, and the California Marine Sanctuary Foundation. 33 companies have received awards ranging from the Blue Sky tier to the Sapphire tier for their participation in last year’s programme.

Many of the world's busiest shipping lanes overlap with routes that whales use to travel between their feeding and breeding grounds. Separating shipping lanes from areas where whales are most likely to be found would be the best solution but is not easy to implement. The next best thing is to reduce the speed of ships to give the whales a chance to avoid them. Reducing vessel speeds to 10 knots or less in certain areas can prevent ship strikes on whales, reduce air pollution, and decrease underwater noise. The programme is timed to coincide with peak whale feeding and migration periods in these areas each year from mid-May to approximately mid-November and can make a significant contribution to the welfare of whales in this environment.

Guntermann, Wolfram, Director Regulatory Affairs

"We are very proud to have received numerous awards for our commitment to whale protection and to be able to raise more awareness of this important issue. I would like to thank the Network Execution team, the local HLC agents, and the captains who worked together to achieve these great results.”

Long-time commitment for oceans and marine life

Through our activities at sea, we inevitably have an impact on the oceans and their ecosystems. Nevertheless, we want to keep this impact as low as possible and protect the oceans as best we can. We have implemented global management systems for water protection, have been acting in accordance with our “no garbage over board” policy for decades, and are actively involved in initiatives to protect the environment.

Our participation in the “Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies” programme is only one example of many. We also partner with the ECHO Programme for the protection of orcas, and we are actively engaged with the World Shipping Council (WSC) with whom we are promoting the optimisation of the existing traffic separation scheme (TSS) off the southern coast of Sri Lanka in favour of the protection of blue whales.

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