Whales to gain Panama Canal traffic protection
Humpback whales breed around Las Perlas archipelago 60km (40 miles) from the canal's southern entrance, and are disturbed and even killed by shipping.
Panamanian officials and scientists have developed a plan that would corral vessels into narrow lanes.
They plan to present it for discussion and maybe adoption by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) next year.
Details of the proposal were presented at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) annual meeting in Panama City.
Hector Guzman from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute drew up the plans following research comparing movements of ships with those of 15 humpback whales fitted with satellite tags.
Maps show the whales swimming throughout the Gulf of Panama, which lies outside the canal entrance on the Pacific Ocean side, repeatedly crossing the ships' tracks.
"We recorded 98 interactions between whales and ships during an 11-day period," he told BBC News.