Voluntary ship slowdown through Swiftsure Bank begins August 1
Beginning August 1, the commercial shipping industry is encouraged to participate in a new voluntary ship slowdown trial through Swiftsure Bank as part of transboundary efforts to reduce underwater noise and support the recovery of southern resident killer whales.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority-led Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program is coordinating the voluntary slowdown trial in collaboration with its many advisors and partners in both Canada and the United States.
Swiftsure Bank, off the southwest coast of British Columbia, is located within the critical habitat of southern resident killer whales and has been identified as an important feeding area for both the killer whales and other at-risk marine mammals. Underwater noise from ships can interfere with killer whales’ ability to hunt, navigate and communicate, but research findings show that reducing ship speeds is an effective way of reducing both the underwater noise generated at the ship source and total underwater noise in nearby habitats.
The Swiftsure Bank voluntary ship slowdown is the third ECHO Program voluntary initiative to launch in 2020, adding to the ship slowdown in Haro Strait and Boundary Pass and the lateral displacement (route alteration) for tugboats in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
This new research trial will evaluate the amount of voluntary participation and underwater noise reduction that can be achieved by slowing down in non-piloted waters.
The Swiftsure Bank voluntary slowdown trial is in effect from August 1 to October 31, 2020. Southern resident killer whales have historically been observed at Swiftsure Bank year-round, and in greater numbers during the summer and fall months.
About the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and ECHO Program
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is the federal agency responsible for the stewardship of the Port of Vancouver. The port authority is structured as a non-share corporation, is financially self-sufficient and does not rely on tax dollars for operations. Profits are reinvested in port infrastructure. The port authority has control over the use of port land and water, which includes more than 16,000 hectares of water, over 1,500 hectares of land, and approximately 350 kilometres of shoreline. Located on the southwest coast of British Columbia in Canada, the Port of Vancouver extends from Roberts Bank and the Fraser River up to and including Burrard Inlet, bordering 16 municipalities and intersecting the traditional territories and treaty lands of several Coast Salish First Nations. The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest port, and the third largest in North America by tonnes of cargo. Enabling the trade of approximately $240 billion in goods with more than 170 world economies, port activities sustain 115,300 jobs, $7 billion in wages, and $11.9 billion in GDP across Canada.