Opinion: As Australian shipping grows, how can we avoid collisions with marine animals?

December 1, 2016

Dr Joshua Smith

Dr Joshua Smith

Increasing concerns for Australian marine mammals injured or killed following collisions with shipping vessels has led to calls to investigate the extent of the problem.

Australia relies heavily on sea transport to sustain our economy and lifestyle, with bulk freight and container throughput set to increase dramatically by 2030. Increasing vessel numbers coincides with larger and faster vessels in Australian waters, with the bigger ships unlikely to notice a vessel strike to marine life.

Dr Joshua Smith from Murdoch’s School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, co-authors an article for The Conversation that highlights the real impact Australia’s growing use of commercial and recreational vessels has on our marine life.

The article states that: “Based on 95 reports in which the fate of the whale could be reliably determined, 52 per cent of strikes were deemed to be fatal or probably fatal.

“In response to increasing concern about collision risk, the Department of the Environment and Energy has released a draft national strategy for reducing the risk of vessel strikes.

“The strategy suggests that before we can develop ways to avoid collisions, we need to know exactly where animals are most in danger, by mapping the risk of vessel strike on a national scale. We are working on a project to do just that.

“With Australia’s increasing appetite for international trade and recreational boating, it is time to develop some effective methods of our own to avoid running over our marine wildlife.”

To read the full article, click here.

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Media contact: Luke McManus
Tel: (08) 9360 2491  |  Mobile: 0400 297 221  |  Email: L.McManus@murdoch.edu.au
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