Speedlimit in the Strait of Gibraltar

by firmm Team

Monday, February 26, 2007

We can celebrate - finally our work is bearing fruits: In the Strait of Gibraltar a speed limit will be set to protect the whales!

The good news reached us here in Morocco, last Saturday it was in the newspapers in several countries (Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain…). At the office of firmm® Maroc there is intense activity, Katharina keeps receiving calls and e-mails from TV-stations and newspapers, such as Belgium TV, the Spanish newspaper "el País" and even Reuters Madrid. Everybody wants to know from her, how many of which dolphins and whales live in the Strait of Gibraltar and how many insured whales are found each year. Of course Katharina is answering all these questions with pleasure and receiving the congratulations for all the educational work she has done in the last nine years.

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Here are the facts out of a German newspaper:

Speed limit in the Strait of Gibraltar
Right of way for whales

To protect the marine mammals, Spain has set a speed limit for the ships in the Strait of Gibraltar. "The decision is unprecedented in Europe", the Spanish newspaper "El País" reported on Saturday. The goal is to prevent the collision of ships with whales in the much frequented Strait. The speed limit of 13 knots (24 kilometres) per hour is valid for a region, where approximately 25 sperm whales are living. These measures are meant to contribute to protect also other species like the fin whales.

In addition, in order to protect the whales, Spain and Morocco are proving to move the courses of the ferries between the seaports Algeciras and Tanger. According to the information, the existing ferry traffic is barely affected by these considerations as to date the ferries pass the most important range of distribution only marginally. Changes will be taken into consideration when the new port of Tanger will be introduced at the end of this year. This port will be in direct proximity of an area in which many sperm whales can be found.


In addition, the Spanish department of the environment imposed restrictions for the observation of whales not only in the Strait of Gibraltar, but also on the Canary Islands. According to those restrictions, the operators of whale watching tours are not allowed anymore to entice the animals to the surface. It will be prohibited to use probes or throw food into the sea to entice the whales. Particularly on the Canary Islands such practices were getting more and more popular among the tourists.

Eveline Piaz from Marokko

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