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CMA CGM Group and WHOI launch acoustic monitoring buoy off the coast of Savannah, Ga., to increase whale monitoring efforts

·5 min read
  • CMA CGM and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have launched a second buoy to aid in the survival of the North Atlantic right whale, one of the world's most critically endangered species.

  • While preserving marine biodiversity, the buoy near Savannah, Ga., fills a critical gap along the East Coast.

  • Through this new step, the CMA CGM Group strengthens its initiatives to protect the environment and preserve biodiversity in the United States and worldwide.

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SAVANNAH, Ga., Aug. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The CMA CGM Group, a global player in sea, land, air and logistics solutions, in partnership with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution deployed a second acoustic monitoring buoy, aptly named CMA CGM Sea Guardian-Savannah, 39 miles off the coast of Savannah, Ga. The first was launched off the coast of Norfolk, Va., last month. The buoys are designed to increase North Atlantic right whale detection efforts along this heavily trafficked route and will thus help protect the critically endangered species.


CMA CGM Sea Guardian to aid in the survival of one of the world's most endangered animals and preserve marine biodiversity on the U.S. East Coast

Although North Atlantic right whales are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, serious threats to their survival abound with only approximately 336 of these great whales remaining on the planet. The installment of the buoys aims to aid in right whale's survival and will fill a critical gap in monitoring along the East Coast.

The Norfolk and Savannah locations were chosen for the new systems because the ports are among the busiest in the United States, which often puts ships directly in the path of migrating whales. The Port of Savannah is one of the largest and fastest-growing container terminals in North America and a key strategic partner in the Group's East Coast operations.

CMA CGM and WHOI to develop industry consortium for enhanced protection of marine mammals

In addition to the assembly and deployment of the new buoys to alert mariners of the presence of whales near critical U.S. ports, CMA CGM and WHOI will lead the development of an industry consortium focused on reducing risks to right whales from vessels and supporting the continued operation of the WHOI-developed digital acoustic monitoring buoys. This unique collaboration, started in the United States, aims to have a global impact by significantly improving marine mammal protection.

A Group committed to preserving biodiversity in the U.S. and around the world

These buoy launches reaffirm CMA CGM's commitment to preserve marine biodiversity in the United States and worldwide. On the East Coast of the United States and Canada, CMA CGM requires its vessels to reduce their speed to a maximum of 10 knots in certain areas recognized as breeding grounds for cetaceans. On the West Coast, CMA CGM has voluntarily committed to the "Green Flag" speed-reduction program that was introduced in the sanctuary near the Santa Barbara Islands. Wherever possible, the Group strives to lower its speeds and thus limit the risk of collision in these cetacean-protection sanctuaries.

In addition to speed-reduction programs, the CMA CGM Group is participating in a variety of projects designed to revolutionize marine mammal protection through the development of innovative technology. Examples include:

  • REPCET, a collaborative system based on the density of the mesh created by navigation that allows merchant ships to receive and transmit alerts on whale positions in real time.

  • SEA DETECT, a European project that tests innovative solutions for detecting cetaceans and floating objects at sea.

  • CMA CGM has also joined the LIFE-PIAQUO consortium, whose objective is to develop and test various equipment to reduce the noise of maritime traffic and its impact on aquatic biodiversity.

The CMA CGM Group, as part of its sustainability commitment, no longer carries plastic waste on board any of its ships, since June 2022. Through its partnership with WHOI and others, the CMA CGM Group continues to make conserving biodiversity one of the top priorities of its CSR policy and to develop trade that is more responsible and fairer for everyone and for the planet.

Heather Wood, CMA CGM Head of Sustainability-North America, said, "At CMA CGM, we act for the planet with a focus on advancing decarbonization and increasing biodiversity within the oceans. The launch of our two CMA CGM Sea Guardian buoys is yet another step in the Group's roadmap to preserve the health of the ocean and to slow climate change ensuring that future generations of terrestrial and aquatic species will be able to call the planet home."

Mark Baumgartner, project principal investigator and WHOI marine ecologist, said, "This buoy deployment is a great addition to the network of buoys along the East Coast that strive to protect marine life, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. Savannah being a highly trafficked route makes it an important location to use this technology to avoid collisions and to protect the species."

Joanne Caldwell, director of risk management and sustainability for Georgia Port Authority, said, "Protecting our biodiversity in Georgia is paramount to sustaining the natural resources we enjoy. Georgia Ports commends the CMA CGM Group and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for their work to protect critically endangered right whales. Georgia Ports is proud to be a part of the industry consortium that is focused on reducing risk to right whales."


Led by Rodolphe Saadé, the CMA CGM Group, a global player in sea, land, air and logistics solutions, serves more than 420 ports around the world across 5 continents, with a fleet of 580 vessels. The Group transported 22 million TEU containers (twenty-foot equivalent units) in 2021. With its subsidiary CEVA Logistics, a global logistics player which transported 474,000 tons of air cargo and more than 21 million tons of inland freight, and its air cargo division CMA CGM AIR CARGO, the CMA CGM Group is constantly innovating to provide customers a comprehensive and increasingly efficient offering, thanks to new shipping, inland, airfreight and logistics solutions.

Firmly committed to the energy transition in shipping and a pioneer in its use of alternative fuels, the CMA CGM Group has set a Net Zero-Carbon target for 2050.

Each year, via the CMA CGM Foundation, the Group supports thousands of children as part of its efforts to promote education for all and equal opportunities. The CMA CGM Foundation also intervenes in humanitarian crises requiring an emergency response by calling on the Group's shipping and logistics expertise to deliver humanitarian supplies around the world.

Present in 160 countries through its network of more than 400 offices and 750 warehouses, the Group employs 150,000 people worldwide, including 2,900 in Marseille where its head office is located. In the United States, CMA CGM, which is headquartered in Norfolk, Va., employs more than 22,000 people. Its subsidiary, American President Lines (APL), operates a fleet of U.S.-flagged vessels and supports U.S. territories and American military stationed around the world.


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About Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930, its mission is to understand the ocean and its interactions with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate an understanding of the ocean's role in the changing global environment. WHOI's pioneering discoveries stem from an ideal combination of science and engineering—one that has made it one of the most trusted and technically advanced leaders in fundamental and applied ocean research and exploration anywhere. WHOI is known for its multidisciplinary approach, superior ship operations, and unparalleled deep-sea robotics capabilities. We play a leading role in ocean observation and operate the most extensive suite of ocean data-gathering platforms in the world. Top scientists, engineers, and students collaborate on more than 800 concurrent projects worldwide—both above and below the waves—pushing the boundaries of knowledge to inform people and policies for a healthier planet. Learn more at whoi.edu.



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