SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 21, February 2017 - Page 63

with scientists around World Sailing’s Major Oceanic Events commission to improve safety of all races, both current and in the future.”

For Foxall, who studied this race in depth, this is a troubling story.

“There were reports from skippers of sunfish and basking sharks in the area, but much of the damage to the trailing edges of appendages and surrounding structure was consistent with marine mammal strikes,” says Foxall. “However since all of the boats were singlehanded and the collisions occurred at night, this makes reporting details much harder for the skippers.”

Both Foxall and Ritter urge race organizers to apply care towards the timing and route planning of offshore events and to inform sailors of where they are most likely to encounter whales, dolphins, and other vulnerable marine life. They also encourage organizers provide general advice on the species most likely to be encountered along an intended route. Whales, for instance, tend to aggregate so if sailors report one whale, there’s a very good probability that there are others in the area.

“Despite due diligence and correct procedure followed by the race committee and skippers in the case of the Transat-Vendee Globe, we are seeing an increase of incidents,” says Foxall. “While many nations are now realizing the real value of their marine resources, the legislation behind creating marine protected areas is often very prolonged. As a community, we must self-regulate and promote good stewardship when it comes to avoiding collisions with marine mammals.”

If an accident between a sailing vessel and a whale takes place, both Foxall and Ritter urge sailors to take the time to report the incident, not only as a notice to mariners in the area, but also to the International Whaling Commission’s global database on ship strikes located at https://iwc.int/ship-strikes.

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Take Action

As a sailor, get to know the waters you’ll be sailing through. As a regatta organizer, take care to avoid sensitive areas and to integrate key marine wildlife information into your event.

Report any and all collisions with whales to the International Whaling Commission with as many details as possible. These reports are confidential and are used to better understand migratory whale behavior. https://portal.iwc.int/login

Working with information from the International Whaling Commission, Sailors for the Sea and the Canadian Wildlife Federation added a new best practice to the Clean Regattas program that helps race organizers protect Wildlife and Habitat. To learn more contact robyn@sailorsforthesea.org.

February 2017 - Sustainable Travel

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