LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cargo ships will be paid to slow down to avoid hitting whales and cut air pollution, under a new voluntary program being launched off California.

The Los Angeles Times reports shipping firms will receive $2,500 incentivesfor each low-speed trip they complete through the Santa Barbara Channel, a prime feeding area for migrating blue whales.

The speed reduction initiative was developed by federal wildlife officials, environmentalists and air regulators.

It is the latest effort to address longstanding concerns over ship strikes that have killed dozens of endangered blue, humpback and fin whales over the last 10 to 15 years and threaten their recovery.

And when ships travel more slowly, there's an added benefit: Their enormous engines emit less pollution.

Six global shipping companies are participating in the trial program.