Vessel / Whale Collisions (ship strike)

Collision between vessels and cetaceans (referred to as a 'ship strike') is a problem that is increasing on a global scale. As population sizes of cetaceans increase in some areas and industries such as cruise lines, shipping, oil and gas exploration continue to grow to meet human pressures and the use of pleasure craft continues expand, an increase in cetacean collision events is occurring. Global interest in this issue is growing as there is an increase in the occurrence of ship strikes, and incidents can affect cetacean populations and human life and property.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is addressing the problem of ship strikes through its Scientific and Conservation Committees. Reducing ship strikes is a priority for both Committees, and as such the IWC has established a Ship Strike Working Group, of which Australia is a member. Understanding when, where, how and why vessels collide with cetaceans is important in developing appropriate mitigation to reduce the occurrence of these events. The Ship Strike Working Group has developed a standardised global database of collisions between vessels and whales to collect global data on ship strike events.

To support this international initiative, the Australian Government has developed a national ship strike database and associated web-based questionnaire, based very closely on the IWC data collection questionnaire. This will ensure that the data collected in Australia is compatible with the IWC ship strike database. Attempts to submit data from Australian waters directly to the IWC will be redirected back to this site to ensure all reporting will have national verification.

Record a ship strike event Ship strike damage (Photo credit: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service)

Photo credit: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service