Seatrade Cruise News is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Panama Canal caps ship speeds to protect migrating whales

panama canal logo
From now until Nov. 30, the Panama Canal is restricting ship speeds to 10 knots in designated zones to protect cetaceans during their nearby seasonal migration.

These include whales, dolphins and other large aquatic mammals.

The speed cap supports the International Maritime Organization's efforts to safeguard migrating cetaceans. Panama has monitored this seasonal speed reduction since late 2014 when traffic separation devices were installed at the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean entry points to the Canal.

Conservation commitment

'The Panama Canal is committed to sustainable development and the conservation of biodiversity, including the conservation of cetaceans by encouraging the maritime community to follow the recommendations and guidelines established by existing maritime traffic devices,' Administrator Jorge L. Quijano said. 'These measures seek not only to protect cetaceans from collisions with vessels, but also to promote an orderly management of the ocean and its resources.'

These recommendations are included in IMO's Maritime Traffic Organization publication that aims to increase navigation safety in converging zones and areas of high-traffic density, or where the freedom of movement of vessels is limited due to space restrictions, obstacles to navigation, depth limitations, unfavorable weather conditions, exploitation of fishery resources or sensitive coastal and marine areas flagged as important for the protection of species and their habitats.

Increased safety

According to the Panama Canal Authority, traffic separation devices have significantly reduced the likelihood of serious incidents and accidents involving humpback whales and other cetaceans, assuring maritime safety and control of vessels transiting Panamanian waters.