Blue Whales and Blue Skies Program launches Brand Ambassador Initiative
The Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies Program (BWBS) announces the launch of its Brand Ambassador Initiative. This move marks an important expansion for the West Coast-based Vessel Speed Reduction Program, whose mission is to cut air pollution and regional greenhouse gas emissions, protect endangered whales, and reduce underwater noise.
Since its inception in 2014, the BWBS program has worked with ship operators to reduce vessel speed when transiting along the coast of California. Each successive year of program implementation has yielded large increases in both participation and in the environmental benefits generated.
The program recognizes that there is a larger ecosystem of key stakeholders in maritime shipping, most notably the companies that ship goods on BWBS-participating vessels. By creating a space for these companies to engage with the program, BWBS aims to help them advocate for more sustainable shipping within their supply chain and share in the enhanced environmental benefits.
“Brands have a critical role to play in vessel speed reduction programs by sending a signal to ship operators about the importance of sustainable shipping practices,” said Robert Mazurek of the California Marine Sanctuary Foundation, one of the administrative partners of the Blue Whales Blue Skies program. “The BWBS program believes companies and consumers should know if their goods are carried by ships that are operating sustainably to protect the environment.”
The new Brand Ambassador Initiative is well-positioned to do just that. When a company signs on as an ambassador, they are given access to BWBS data identifying which of their ocean freight companies participate in the program and their levels of performance to protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gas and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions. This information can then be used to inform their customers and help these companies make more sustainable shipping choices in the future.
Although the Vessel Speed Reduction zones represent a relatively small geographic area of a vessel’s journey, the environmental benefits of the program add up when scaled up across hundreds of vessels which cumulatively complete thousands of transits a year. Since the program launched in 2014, enrolled vessels have slowed down for more than 346,600 nautical miles, resulting in reductions of more than 46,000 tons of regional greenhouse gasses and more than 1,000 tons of harmful NOx emissions. In 2020 cooperating shipping companies realized a 35% estimated decreased risk in lethal whale strikes, and an average decrease in underwater noise of 4 decibels per transit.
The first brand to join the new initiative is Santa Barbara-based Nomad, a consumer electronics and lifestyle products company.
"Nomad is honored to partner with Protecting Blue Whales & Blue Skies as a Brand Ambassador,” said Scott Beatty, Nomad Procurement Manager. “Through this partnership, we remain committed to exclusively booking freight companies that participate in vessel speed reduction. Our hope is that this regional initiative will develop at a global scale.
“We strongly encourage other companies that ship along the California coast to become ambassadors, raise awareness, and encourage their freight companies to participate in the program, " he said.
The program is a collaborative effort by the Air Pollution Control Districts of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Bay Area; the Channel Islands, Cordell Bank, and Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries; The Volgenau Foundation; California Marine Sanctuary Foundation; National Marine Sanctuary Foundation; Greater Farallones Association; and Environmental Defense Center.