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ESR prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Effectiveness of surface-based detection methods for vessel strike mitigation of North Atlantic right whales

Loïcka M. R. Baille*, Daniel P. Zitterbart

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Increasing commercial and recreational use of the world’s ocean leads to growing concerns about vessel and marine mammal encounters. For endangered species, like the North Atlantic right whale (NARW), reducing the number of vessel strikes is key to improve their protection. In this study, we developed an agent-based model to assess the efficacy of thermal imaging systems as a surface-based whale detection method for vessel strike mitigation. We find that the detection range of such systems is the determining factor for its efficacy and needs to be chosen according to the vessel’s characteristics such as speed and maneuverability. Furthermore, we found that combining large- (e.g. protected zones) and small-scale (e.g. on-board detection systems) mitigation strategies increases protection. Finally, technological improvements are needed to achieve reliable detection ranges beyond what is currently possible so that fast and poorly maneuverable vessels such as Ultra-Large Container ships could benefit from on-board detection systems.