Right place for the right whale

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John Logan played an instrumental role in protecting the North Atlantic right whale.

Irving Oil employee John Logan was managing the tanker fleet during the late 1990’s when one day, Kenneth Irving called John into his office to show him an article in the local newspaper about how the North Atlantic Right Whale, one of the rarest whale species, was nearing extinction.  Kenneth expressed concern to John about the situation and the potential threat that the fishing and shipping activity posed to the Right Whales that spend a lot of time in Irving Oil’s backyard -- the Bay of Fundy during the summer. 

Kenneth asked John to look into the situation and find out what the company could do to lessen the impact on the whales and reduce the likelihood of ships colliding with whales.  John took on the project whole-heartedly.  He researched options to help reduce whale collisions, such as giving the ships a way to alert whales to move out of the way or using technology so ships could detect the whales first.

Despite John’s best efforts, the initial plans didn’t pan out.  But John, determined to find a solution, approached the New England Aquarium to learn about their research into the Right Whales.  John’s contact with the Aquarium was the start of a long, productive friendship that would ultimately lead to a solution that would drastically reduce collision probability by moving the shipping lanes out of the whales’ high habitat areas.

Moving the shipping lanes was a great idea, but it wasn’t as easy as simply redirecting traffic.  At first, Irving Oil wasn’t sure if the plan to move shipping lanes would work or how the change might impact its business.   The outcome was completely unknown, but both John and Kenneth Irving were committed to doing the right thing.  They wanted Irving Oil to help the situation, not turn away from an environmental problem in their backyard. 

John worked closely with the folks from the New England Aquarium who spent significant time over the course of a few years to gain approval and acceptance of the new shipping lanes.  In order to gain approval, they had to present their findings to the captains of the ships, the International Marine Organization and the Canadian government as well as various other agencies and stakeholders.  It was a lengthy process, but one that Irving Oil supported every step of the way.

Eventually, all necessary parties involved approved of moving the shipping lanes to reduce their impact on the Right Whales.  John feels excited and grateful to have been part of changing the shipping lanes and seeing the project through from start to finish.  He’s also proud to be part of a company that took bold steps in support of such a worthy environmental cause.

“Sometimes I would go away for three days at a time to work on this project.  I enjoyed it; I was committed to it.  I felt like I was really making a difference.  I had never done anything like that before -- make such a big difference environmentally.”

Today, according to experts at the New England Aquarium, the right moves were made for the right whale. Moving the shipping lanes has reduced the relative probability of a ship collision with a right whale by 90 percent!