New Initiative to Protect Sperm Whales in Southern Greece
At DFDS, our awareness of how our ferry and logistics activities impact biodiversity is growing. We are taking essential steps to protect marine life in the Mediterranean around the Southern part of Greece, a critical habitat for endangered sperm whales.
Sofie Lindegaard, Head of Group Sustainability, explains, "Our responsibility to the marine life in the waters we operate is crucial. We want to ensure that our operations are respectful towards the different ecosystems."
"Working closely with NGOs is an invaluable way to get insights into important and sometimes unknown areas and constructive input on how to address it," Sofie adds.
Together with a coalition of NGOs, including IFAW, Ocean Care, Pelagos Cetacean Institute, and WWF Greece, DFDS has developed initiatives to reduce vessel-whale collisions in the Hellenic Trench in Southern Greece:
- Route Adjustments: We have redefined our vessel routes to avoid high-risk areas known for frequent sperm whale sightings.
- Slow Steaming: We have limited vessel speeds in these high-risk zones to minimize the potential of collisions.
- Spotting and Reporting: We have initiated a policy encouraging all Masters to maintain vigilance, identify whales, and communicate sightings promptly to DFDS vessels and other ships in the vicinity.
Kemal Bozkurt, VP for Operations, Mediterranean, has been part of developing these changes and sheds light on the crew's response.
"The crews have understood and supported the importance of these conservation efforts, which require heightened vigilance and the maintenance of reduced speeds in high-risk zones."
While the route adjustments and slow steaming have extended our trip durations, the impact has been minimal: "On average, we are seeing an increase of 15-30 min per leg, which allows us to prioritize the protection of animals without disrupting our schedules."
The changes will not affect our customers; Kemal ensures, "Our customers' experiences remain a top priority. So while there may be slight adjustments to our schedules, most will not affect our customers. And if they do, we have made efforts to communicate the reasons behind these changes."
The changes apply to vessels calling Pendik, Trieste, Sete and Yalova.
Photo credit: ©Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute