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Six years keeping Bryde’s Whales safe

Ports of Auckland, Conservation Week 2019 marks the sixth year of no known Bryde's Whale deaths from ship strike in the Hauraki Gulf – a special and notable achievement.

In September 2013, Ports of Auckland, working with the shipping industry, scientists and other stakeholders, developed a voluntary protocol for ships travelling through the Hauraki Gulf. The protocol's main aim was to lower vessel speeds and reduce the risk of collisions and deaths of Bryde's (pronounced "brooders") Whales.

Before the protocol, an average of two Bryde's whales a year were killed by ships, but since then there have been no known Bryde's Whale deaths from ship strike in the Hauraki Gulf.

What is particularly notable about this whale-saving success is that the protocol is voluntary and was implemented quickly in a collaborative process in response to an urgent need. In other parts of the world, measures to save whales have required regulation and have taken much longer to develop and implement. More whales have been saved as a result.

The Hauraki Gulf is one of the few places in the world with a semi-resident population of Bryde's Whales – a locally endangered species. It is estimated that about 50 Bryde's Whales live in the Gulf.

The protocol consists of four main elements. Ships are asked to:

  • Travel as close to 10 knots as their schedule allows.
  • Use the recommend approach route to the Ports of Auckland
  • Keep watch for whales and take action to avoid collision if whales are sighted
  • Report whale sighting to Ports of Auckland Harbour Control

The risk to whales is substantially lower from ships travelling at 10 knots compared to 15 knots or more.

Before the protocol the average ship speed through the Gulf was 14.2 knots. Over the past 12 months, the average vessel speed for each month has been 10.0 knots or less.

For further information contact:​

Matt Ball

Head of Communications

M: +6421 495 645

E: [email protected]