Ship strikes are on the main human-induced threats to whale survival. A variety of measures have been used or proposed to reduce collisions and subsequent mortality of whales. These include operational measures, such as mandatory speed reduction, or technical ones, such as detection tools.

This paper proposes a holistic approach through a risk assessment framework that has been adopted by the IMO (International Maritime Organization) namely the FSA* (Formal Safety Assessment). The objective of this paper is to conceptualize the use of the FSA to address collisions between ships and whales.

The authors state that there are many challenges in using FSA to assess measures that can reduce the risk of ship strikes. The paper highlights the main areas in the methodology that need to be further addressed, and at the same time, summarizes the obtained results on major hazards, as well as, the main risk control measures that have been adopted by various national and international regulators.

The authors hope that this work could spark further research in this area, which could lead to more transparent and systematic assessment of the risks related to collisions between ships and whales, and help propose cost-effective measures to reduce the related risks.

The authors conclude that this approach may lead to the emergence of control options that take into consideration both whale conservation and maritime traffic stakes, contributing to a better compliance of the shipping industry to those options.

* A rational and systematic process for assessing the risk related to maritime safety and the protection of the marine environment and for evaluating the costs and benefits of IMO’s options for reducing these risks.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X19304567

Sèbe et al. (2019) A decision-making framework to reduce the risk of collisions between ships and whales. Marine Policy 109:103697.