UVic study: Increased Arctic access could harm whales

The Canadian Press interviewed Geography's Lauren McWhinnie regarding a new study she co-led on the impacts of increased vessel traffic on marine mammals in the Arctic as a result of melting sea ice. Lauren McWhinnie is the lead author on the study that says there is a window of opportunity to address the harmful effects of increased shipping on the whales’ environment before they become more threatened. The research, to be published in Ocean and Coastal Management next month, reviewed vessel management tools for viable use in an Arctic environment and recommends two tools: a voluntary exclusion zone and a voluntary speed reduction zone. The proposed whale protection measures would only significantly affect very large, fast vessels travelling further away from the shoreline, rather than smaller community boats operating closer to the shore, the study says. McWhinnie added the noise problem is not species-specific and affects all creatures in the icy Arctic waters that use echolocation to communicate and hunt for food.

“It’s a whole ecosystem that’s potentially going to be facing these changes, because of the sea ice there are other conditions, the warming of the water as well they’re already contending with, the vessel traffic is a low-hanging fruit.”

The article was shared by the Globe and Mail and CTV News online. CHEK News also reported on the story.  G&M  CTV (Source: CP)  CHEK  UVic News