Sean Hastings

Protecting Blue Whales and Blues Skies

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Conversation Date: 08/25/2021

Every year, container ships and auto carriers make thousands of transits in the shipping lanes in the Santa Barbara Channel region and along the California coast. These vessels are a significant source of air pollution and ship strikes on endangered blue, humpback, and fin whales. The Vessel Speed Reduction incentive program is a voluntary program that requests vessel operators to slow down to 10 knots or less, which reduces air pollution, fatal strikes on endangered whales, and ocean noise.

The program is a partnership between Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties Air Pollution Control Districts, NOAA’s Channel Islands, Cordell Bank, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries, California Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and other partners. The voluntary incentive program starts on May 15. It ends on November 15 to overlap the seasonal migration of the great whales to California waters and when ground-level ozone (smog) concentrations are typically high. Incentives include modest financial awards and an extensive positive public recognition campaign.  In its 7th year, the program continues to expand, with 18 global shipping companies enrolled.  New directions include engaging Corporate America to support sustainable shipping.

Sean Hastings

Policy, Management and Information Officer, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

Sean joined Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary in 1997 and serves as the site's resource protection coordinator. He is responsible for developing policies and programs to address industrial, military, commercial, and recreational uses and impacts in and around the sanctuary. He also handles emergency response, enforcement, permits, community relations and is a liaison to the media. In addition, Sean helped create the marine protected area network to restore local fish and invertebrate populations and habitats in the sanctuary and helped the state of California to do the same in state waters on the mainland.

Daily he strives to raise the sanctuary's profile locally, nationally, and internationally through astute communication, media, and negotiation skills.  He has forged trusted partnerships with academia, government agencies, non-government organizations, and sanctuary user groups. Sean has a Master of Marine Affairs degree from the School of Marine Affairs, University of Washington, and a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz. In 1998 he was nominated as a presidential management fellow. Sean is an avid outdoorsman who surfs, boats, paddles, scuba and free dives, fishes, hunts, skis, and snowboards throughout California's wildlands. With a multi-agency coalition and community support, he has helped move commercial shipping lanes to protect endangered whales.


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