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Through meticulous scrutiny of internal environmental reports & policies, direct engagement with relevant sustainability associates, and exhaustive inspection of all available information online, Friend of the Sea selected the most actively involved companies in the shipping and cruise line industries and has awarded them with the highest level of Whale-Safe recognition for their displayed engagement towards the conservation of endangered whales.

– Top Shipping Lines: Hapag-Lloyd

The WSO has selected Hapag-Lloyd for the Friend of the Sea / WHALE-SAFE Award 2022 – Shipping Lines, owing to its commitment to reducing whale ship strikes.

– Top Cruise Lines: MSC Cruises

The WSO has selected MSC Cruises for the Friend of the Sea / WHALE-SAFE Award 2022 – Cruise Lines, owing to its commitment to reducing whale ship strikes.

– Dolphin and Whale Watching Organizations

The WSO has identified numerous dolphin and whale watching organizations who have displayed an outstanding level of practice and commitment during excursions towards preventing whale ship strikes, awarding them the Friend of the Sea / WHALE-SAFE Award 2022.


Collisions between marine mammals and ships, known as “ship strikes”, have been identified as one of the most significant threats to major whale populations. Although preventative measures such as the application of observation systems and complying with existing slowdown regulations have seen significant empirical success, major shipping and cruise liners have still yet to implement them. To motivate uptake, Friend of the Sea carried out a comprehensive study analyzing the level of engagement from major cruise and shipping lines, identifying which entity exhibits the greatest effort to ameliorate ship strikes.
Save The Whale

Relevant data was collected from available information located on companies’ websites and sustainability reports in addition to scholarly articles, and through direct correspondence with relevant stakeholders.

Companies have been ranked according to their level of engagement, compliance with slowdown areas, initiatives to reduce noise pollution, onboard full-time observation programs, and appropriate reporting where ship strikes have occurred. Scores are additionally amended where evidence of whale strikes has been reported.

Whale Ship Strike

Twenty of the largest shipping and cruise line operators globally have been included in the assessment. The list remains an open-source point of reference for other companies, regardless of size, who wish to participate in the ranking. Unfortunately, regardless of considerable empirical evidence concluding the significant inverse relationship between cruising speed and ship strikes, few of the assessed companies have enforced speed controls in the identified high-risk areas (areas where congested shipping routes converge with endangered whale species). Half of the listed companies express a certain level of engagement, while the remaining do not seem to showcase any level of concern of any kind revolving around the issue.

Companies interested to participate in the ranking or are interested in providing updates on their policies should proceed to get in contact at

The Problem

Until recently, it was generally understood that the greatest threats to marine mammal populations were whaling or being caught unintentionally as bycatch.

However, recent studies have identified that collisions between Marine Mammals and ships, known as “ship strikes”, are now considered to be one of the primary threats.

The pervasive phenomenon has been called the ‘silent massacre’ given that strikes are often unnoticed and subsequently undocumented, leading to the issue being largely neglected. With studies predominantly relying on beached whales to estimate the number of strikes, the severity of the issue has been surmised to be largely underestimated given only around 10% of deceased whales wash ashore.

Watch Our Video on Save the Whales!


The shipping industry is growing exponentially, doubling in size every 10 years, undoubtedly extending the lethal impact on whales. Experts estimate that cargo, cruise, and fishing vessels collide and kill at least 20,000 whales every year. Fatal collisions in both the Mediterranean Sea and Sri Lanka have almost doubled in the past 40 years, inflicting a staggering blow by halving the size of whale populations.

7 of 13 large whale species are already classified as endangered species of immediate concern, where studies have suggested that continual ship collisions may prove to push some species to the brink of extinction.

Studies have revealed that preserving whale populations may also represent a crucial opportunity in contributing toward abating the climate emergency. Whales, in addition to being a keystone species and regulator of marine ecosystems globally, are a powerful sequestering agent, responsible for absorbing large amounts of atmospheric C02 and consequently contributing substantially to the ocean carbon sink. When a whale dies, an average of 33 tons of CO2 is taken from the atmosphere and stored in the ocean depths for thousands of years, the equivalent amount a tree would take 1600 years to absorb. The substantial amount of carbon ascribes each whale with a lifetime sequestering value worth $2m, with the entire population globally valued at $1t.


With inaction leading to the possible extinction of the great whale populations, immediate and collective ameliorative efforts are now critical. Friend of the Sea has since launched an awareness campaign to attract vital attention to the neglected issue by holding major shipping lines accountable for their ongoing environmental damage.

Friend of the Sea, a program to promote products and services that respect and protect the marine environment launched the awareness campaign and 2022 Whale-Safe award to shipping entities that have successfully implemented measures to prevent ship strikes.

Friend of the Sea has initiated a certification standard that urges ship owners and governments to abide by an exhaustive set of measures to prevent whale ship strikes including but not limited to, a combination of thermal cameras, online reporting systems, and minor shifts in shipping lanes.  Cruise lines, ship operators, and fishing fleets that implement these measures will be identifiable by the Friend of the Sea WHALE-SAFE logo.


In 2015, Friend of the Sea launched a campaign focusing on the increasing numbers of whales being killed or affected by ship strikes. Pygmy blue and other whales feed and breed in  the Indian Ocean, just south of Sri Lanka, an area subject to some of the busiest cargo ship traffic in the world.

Aside from the potential lethal strikes, the loud noise from ships creates negative impacts on whales’ feeding and breeding behaviours.

Friend of the Sea has urged the World Shipping Council and the Sri Lankan Government to submit a proposal to the International Maritime Organization to move the shipping lanes 15 miles south, reducing the risk of collisions by 94%.

Friend of the Sea has also proposed an international project to assess such risks and introduce impact reduction measures.

How you can help save the whales

You can support the Save the Whales campaign by signing the petition, which will help Friend of the Sea convince shipping and cruise line operators to make a change benefit for marine mammal conservation.

If we all work together, we can save the magnificent Whales from extinction.

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