Right place for the right whale

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, John read an article in the local newspaper about how the North Atlantic right whale, one of the rarest whale species, was nearing extinction. The article spoke to the potential threat that fishing and shipping activities posed to the right whales that spend a lot of time in Irving Oil’s backyard - the Bay of Fundy, during the summer.

Right away, John and his fellow team members started considering what they could do to lessen the impact on the whales and reduce the likelihood of ships colliding with whales. They researched options to help reduce whale collisions, such as giving the ships a means 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 transpire. John remained determined to find a solution; he approached the New England Aquarium to learn about their research into 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. It required the collaboration of Irving Oil, the International Marine Organization and the Canadian government as well as various other agencies and stakeholders. It was a lengthy process and the outcome was unknown, but Irving Oil was committed to doing the right thing. The company wanted to help the situation, not turn away from an environmental problem in its backyard.

Eventually, all parties approved of moving the shipping lanes to reduce their impact on the right whales. John is 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,” says John. “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 in the Bay of Fundy by 90 percent! Nearly two decades later, our partnership continues as we support the New England Aquarium in its ongoing research of this endangered species.

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