Environmentalists say ships traveling through California's marine sanctuaries should be required to slow down to avoid fatal collisions with whales.
Saying the problem has increased to "unsustainable levels," a coalition of environmental groups filed a petition Monday asking the U.S. Department of Commerce to establish a 10-knot limit for large commercial vessels transiting California's four National Marine Sanctuaries in the Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Wildlife experts say nearly 50 whales have been hit by ships off the California coast in the last 10 years and that they suspect the number is much higher as many accidents go unreported.
The Environmental Defense Center, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and Pacific Environment say a shipping speed limit would help protect endangered blue, humpback and fin whales.
"The overlap of these shipping lanes with California's national marine sanctuaries puts sanctuary wildlife at great risk," their petition reads.