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Panel on ship strikes of whales, a growing concern

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Please join San Francisco Bay American Cetacean Society for this fascinating panel presentation and discussion on the Acoustic and Ship Strike Issues. This will be very informative on the development of the Joint Working group, the subsequent research and published paper, and to the June implementation of Shipping lane shifts and development of a spotter app for iphones.

A $5 suggested Donation goes toward Student Research Grants.

Be sure to come early to reserve a seat. We look forward to seeing you there and sharing this very special presentation with you!

Acoustic and Ship Strike Issue Panel

Ship strikes of whales have been recognized as a growing concern worldwide. Documented ship strikes from NOAA NMFS data from 1988-2011, occurring just within the GFNMS/CBNMS region, total 20 whales killed by ships (i.e., death caused by vessel collision or carcass exhibited signs of trauma consistent with vessel collision) and an additional 10 injured and possibly killed (i.e., collision observed, but final status unknown). The true number of ship strikes could be at least 10 times higher than the number documented.

Anthropogenic noise in the ocean, including off the California coast, has increased exponentially over the past 60 years, largely due to the increased number, size, and tonnage of vessels in the commercial fleet. The sanctuaries, given their coincidence with the TSS adjacent to San Francisco Bay ports, are especially susceptible to increased amounts of anthropogenic noise. Commercial vessels are responsible for relatively loud, low-frequency underwater noise. This ship noise overlaps significantly with the frequency range used by many cetacean species, especially with low-frequency vocalizers such as blue, fin, humpback, and grey whales, and can cause what is known as masking. Masking occurs when increased levels of background noise reduce an animal’s ability to detect relevant sounds and can hinder prey detection and reduce the range of communication.

Protecting endangered species and sanctuary resources is a priority issue for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). To address this issue locally, Gulf of the Farallones (GF) and Cordell Bank (CB) Sanctuary Advisory Councils formed a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Vessel Strikes and Acoustic Impacts, represented by a diversity of stakeholders including the shipping industry, and the conservation and scientific communities. Staff from federal agencies (including NMFS, the Sanctuaries, and the U.S. Coast Guard), as well as members of the scientific community and environmental organizations served as technical experts to the JWG. Over one year, the JWG met and came to consensus on a set of recommendations to the sanctuary

This panel consists of members of that Joint Working Group. Experts in their field, they will discuss the process and how stakeholders came together to achieve consensus on a set of specific, solution-oriented recommendations.

Leslie Abramson, Resource Protection Specialist with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, John Berge: Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, Frances Gulland: Senior Scientist at The Marine Mammal Center and one of three Commissioner positions at the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, Lance Morgan: Marine biologist and President of the Marine Conservation Institute, Jackie Dragon: Senior Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace, Michael Carver: Deputy Superintendent for Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (CBNMS), Carol Keiper: Marine ecologist and founding board member/researcher with Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge

Tentatively, if available: John Calambokidis ( Olympia , WA ): Cascadia research, Michael Jasny:NRDC (focus on legal and acoustics issues)


Leslie Abramson:

Leslie is a Resource Protection Specialist with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. She has been working to protect whales along the California coast since 2008, when she lead-authored Reducing the Threat of Ship Strikes on Large Cetaceans in the Santa Barbara Channel Region and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary: Recommendations and Case Studies ( for the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary. Last year, Leslie, along with staff from the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, facilitated a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Vessel Strikes and Acoustic Impacts, which included representatives from conservation groups, the shipping industry, and the scientific community. Leslie received her Master of Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara, spent the subsequent year in Washington DC as a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow in the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard and currently lives in the Sunset District of San Francisco with her husband, Nathan, and newborn baby son, Chase.

John Berge
John Berge is Vice President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA), a regional maritime industry trade association headquartered in San Francisco . Joining PMSA in 2000, John has over 32 years’ experience working in the maritime industry. PMSA is active in many aspects of maritime trade and has been involved in the development of navigational risk reduction and response programs, regulations and best practices. John is an appointee of the Governor to the State Oil Spill Technical Advisory Committee, and also sits on the Harbor Safety Committee of the San Francisco Bay Region, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network Advisory Board and as an alternate maritime representative on the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council.

Frances M. D. Gulland, Vet MB , PhD, MRCVS
Frances Gulland is the Senior Scientist at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito , California . She has been actively involved in the veterinary care and rehabilitation of stranded marine mammals and research into marine mammal diseases there since 1994. Her interests include determining the impacts of human activities on marine mammal health, and how marine mammals can in turn serve as indicators of ocean health. She received a veterinary degree from the University of Cambridge, UK, in 1984, and a PhD in Zoology there in 1991. Before moving to California in 1994, she worked as a veterinarian and research fellow at the Zoological Society of London. She currently serves as Commissioner on the U. S. Marine Mammal Commission.

Lance Morgan: Marine biologist and President of the Marine Conservation Institute

Dr. Morgan is a marine biologist and President of the Marine Conservation Institute. Growing up as a son of a US Navy nuclear submarine captain, Lance learned about and became deeply committed to conserving our living oceans while living in California , Hawaii and Washington . Lance received his Master’s in Marine Science from San Francisco State University . His doctoral research explored factors influencing recruitment of marine invertebrates, for which he received his PhD in Ecology from the University of California-Davis (1997). Prior to joining the Marine Conservation Institute Lance was Science Director at the Marine Mammal Center, and a Postdoctoral Associate with the National Marine Fisheries Service. His research interests include marine ecology and conservation science and he has studied taxa as diverse as deep sea corals, rockfishes, seabirds, sea lions and orcas. He led the identification of Marine Priority Conservation Areas from Baja California to the Bering Sea for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (2005). He has explored the ocean as a SCUBA diver, aquanaut and submersible pilot. He has authored reports on the impacts of fishing methods on marine life as well as scientific papers on marine protected areas. In 2010 he traveled to the remote Johnston Atoll in the Central Pacific to help establish the first field camp at this new marine national monument. He currently chairs the Cordell Bank Sanctuary Advisory Council and holds a research faculty appointment at Bodega Marine Laboratory. His most recent conservation project is leading development of a new global tool to help better understand the current state of global ocean protection –

Jackie Dragon: Senior Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace

Since 2008, Greenpeace Senior Oceans Campaigner Jackie Dragon has campaigned to protect some of the world’s most valuable and threatened marine regions. In California ’s National Marine Sanctuaries, she worked to promote conservation and reduce ocean noise pollution and ship strikes on whales from large commercial vessels. In the Bering Sea, she is fighting to conserve the largest underwater canyons in the world from destructive fishing practices and, in the Arctic , she journeyed on Greenpeace’s Esperanza to bring international attention to the irreversible destruction posed by undersea oil extraction. Jackie holds a conservation seat on the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, and she initiated and co-chaired a Joint Working Group of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank Sanctuary Advisory Councils on Vessel Strikes and Acoustic Impacts. Significantly, this multi-stakeholder group, which included representatives for more than 90% of U.S. shipping companies, delivered full-consensus recommendations for dynamic management of the sanctuaries, calling for large vessels to alter their speed or course when whales are present in the shipping lanes. Jackie also successfully partnered with California Congressman (then Assembly member) Jared Huffman and local allies to pass AB1112 – a bill to protect the California coastline from the threat of oil spills and save taxpayers from bearing the burden of clean up efforts. When not campaigning for a healthy ocean from land, Jackie likes to scuba dive, free dive, and occasionally pilot submarines into the ocean depths.

Michael Carver:

Deputy Superintendent for Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary(CBNMS
Michael Carver is the Deputy Superintendent for Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary(CBNMS) who oversees resource protection and operations for CBNMS. Michael's responsibilities include overseeing enforcement, permitting, planning, and management actions to address threats to the marine environment of the Sanctuary. Michael works with the NOAA office of law enforcement to coordinate enforcement activities between Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies to protect Sanctuary resources. Michael also provides engineering support for sanctuary field operations, and serves as the staff lead on emergency response issues. In addition, Michael also coordinates, annual budget planning and execution, interagency agreements, writes and manages contracts, and works closely with the sanctuary superintendent to ensure smooth operation of the sanctuary. Since the fall of 2009 Michael has been working with the USCG, and a team of partners, to address the issue of ship strikes in the entrance to San Francisco .

Michael has been with Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary since 2000. Michael started the sanctuary's monthly at sea monitoring program and managed it for over 6 years. Michael graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resource Management from North Carolina State University .

Carol A. Keiper M.Sc.: marine ecologist with Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge

Carol A. Keiper M.Sc., a marine ecologist with Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge, a non-profit organization founded over a decade ago and she was one of the founding board members and directors. She received her Master’s Degree in Marine Science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories through San Jose State University and published her thesis entitled: Keiper , C.A. , D.G. Ainley, S.G. Allen, J.T. Harvey. 2005. Marine Mammals and ocean climate off Central California , 1986-1994, 1997-1999. Marine Ecology Progress Series Vol.289:285-306. Her research interests include understanding and assessing impacts of human activities on our complex marine ecosystems. The latest project involved doing a risk assessment of vessel traffic on the endangered Blue and Humpback whales off central California and this was one of the first projects that focused on this issue in the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries. This project was initiated in 2010 and the report was completed in 2012: Keiper , CA , J.Calambokidis, G.Ford, J.Casey, C.Miller, T.R. Kieckhefer. Risk assessment of vessel traffic on endangered Blue and Humpback whales in the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries. (Available on website: ( Carol has been participating in surveys as a marine mammal and seabird observer since 1997 off central and southern California , the Gulf of Alaska, Kauai HI, and the Caribbean . She has also been a trip leader and marine naturalist on trips off central California , Southeast Alaska , and Baja for almost 25 years. Her undergraduate degree is in teaching and she has also been contributing to ocean conservation and stewardship through education outreach.


John Calambokidis: Research Biologist and one of the founders of Cascadia Research, a non-profit research organization formed in 1979 based in Olympia , Washington . He periodically (1991-2012) serves as an Adjunct Faculty at the Evergreen State College teaching a course on marine mammals. His primary interests are the biology of marine mammals and the impacts of humans. As a Senior Research Biologist at Cascadia Research he has served as Project Director of over 100 projects. He has authored two books on marine mammals (on blue whales and a guide to marine mammals) as well as more than 150 publications in scientific journals and technical reports. He has conducted studies on a variety of marine mammals in the North Pacific from Central America to Alaska . He has directed long-term research on the status, movements, and underwater behavior of blue, humpback, and gray whales. Some of his recent research has included attaching tags to whales with suction cups to examine their feeding behavior and vocalizations. His work has been covered on shows by Discovery Channel and others and is featured in National Geographic TV specials and a magazine article in 2009. In 2012 he received the American Cetacean Society's John Heyning Award for Lifetime Achievement in Marine Mammal Science.

Michael Jasny:

Michael Jasny is Director of the Marine Mammal Protection Project and a Senior Policy Analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). He is a leading expert in the law and policy of ocean noise pollution, and has worked domestically and internationally for more than ten years through high-profile litigation, lobbying, science-based policy development, and public advocacy to improve regulation of this emergent global problem. Michael is also engaged in securing protection for endangered marine mammal populations and critical habitat, opposing development projects that threaten marine mammals off the U.S. and Canada , and improving management of fisheries, whale-watching, and other sectors under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the nation’s leading instrument for the conservation of these species. Michael is the author of several NRDC reports and author or co-author of various publications in legal, policy, and scientific journals. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale College and J.D. from Harvard Law School .


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