Ferries release action plan for greener vessels and terminals

The plan includes initiatives to protect orca whales and reduce greenhouse gas emissions

In honor of Earth Day, Washington State Ferries said it has launched a two-year Sustainability Action Plan, outlining goals and actions for greener ferries and terminals.

The plan includes initiatives to protect orca whales, reduce greenhouse emissions, improve air quality and reduce waste, all in an effort to make the ferries more sustainable. The plan also lays out a path to achieve the goals set out by Gov. Jay Inslee’s executive orders and recommendations outlined in Washington State Ferries’ 2040 Long Range Plan.

WSF is the largest consumer of diesel fuel in the state, burning more than 18 million gallons each year. Ferry operations generate the most carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions within the state transportation system.

According to a press release, WSF is already helping to protect Puget Sound’s orca whale population by:

  • Slowing down ferries on certain routes to reduce underwater noise.
  • Stopping work at terminal construction sites if marine animals are in the vicinity.
  • Reducing speed or changing course if the crew spots whales near a ferry.
  • Reporting orca sightings to local partners such as the Orca Network.

“Because we operate our 23 ferries on Puget Sound and manage 20 terminals on its shores, we have an obligation to ensure WSF is doing everything we can to protect our environment,” said Amy Scarton, assistant secretary of Washington State Ferries.

“This plan lays out our commitment to tackle these issues and continue our efforts to make Washington’s ferry system the greenest in the world.”

The plan focuses on gathering data and establishing a baseline in the first two years to continue to make data-driven progress in years to come, according to the press release.

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