How does the port authority assign anchorages at the Port of Vancouver?

Anchorages at the Port of Vancouver

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority manages 28 deep-sea anchorages within the Port of Vancouver, located in English Bay, the Inner Harbour and Indian Arm. We have taken many steps to improve efficiency and fluidity in the Vancouver gateway, to ensure the Port of Vancouver has the necessary capacity to handle Canada’s growing trade. This includes amending our own anchorages procedures to set time limits for anchorage use, increasing the number of anchorages in English Bay from 15 to 18, and opening up previously seasonal West Vancouver anchorages to be used all year round.

As shipping trade continues to grow, anchorages within port authority jurisdiction are being used more frequently. When they are all in use, ships anchor outside of port jurisdiction.

In Canada, outside a port authority’s jurisdiction, ships of any size have the right to navigate, and anchor wherever it is safe to do so, including around the Gulf Islands. Waterways beyond a port are a federal responsibility so the port authority does not normally have direct influence when it comes to managing ships that may be anchored in those areas.

Gulf Island Anchorages

Ships have anchored in and around the Gulf Islands for years as these anchorages are in deep water and can therefore accommodate larger vessels. Historically, the majority of commercial ships that anchor in the Gulf Islands have been bulk carriers for grain, with some coal, potash, sulphur and, on the rare occasion, the remaining few are container vessels.

Continuing growth in trade facilitated by larger vessels, along with upstream supply chain and weather-related delays, have combined to generate demand for anchorages often in excess of Port of Vancouver capacity. In response, Transport Canada launched a pilot project to test an interim protocol to manage the anchorages with an aim to more equitably distribute vessels among the existing anchorages so as not to impact any single community more than others.

Transport Canada’s Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern B.C. Anchorages

In February 2018, Transport Canada initiated its Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern B.C. Anchorages.

The protocol is an interim measure put in place while a comprehensive national review of anchorages is being conducted. Initially launched as a six-month pilot project, it has since been periodically extended.

The protocol was developed in collaboration with the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, the Shipping Federation of Canada, the Pacific Pilotage Authority, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, and the Nanaimo Port Authority. Transport Canada also consulted with local communities and Aboriginal groups in developing the protocol, and continues to consider feedback it receives. Although voluntary, the protocol’s procedures and guidelines are fully supported by representatives of the marine community.

Our involvement in the Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern B.C. Anchorages

Anchorage assignment

Transport Canada has asked the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to assist in the protocol by assigning anchorages around the Gulf Islands. We use an algorithm to assign anchorages fairly, considering the following factors: size of vessel, anchorage use in Vancouver, the number of days an anchorage has been vacant, when it was last used, and the average number of days it was occupied. Wherever possible, we avoid assigning ships to Gulf Island anchorages.

Concerns about ship noise and light

The procedures in Transport Canada’s Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern B.C. Anchorages ask vessel operators to minimize noise and lights whenever possible, without compromising safety and security, and pursuant to regulatory requirements.

Members of the public who have concerns pertaining to light and noise related to a specific vessel anchored in the Gulf Islands can complete this form. When a complaint about a specific ship’s operations is received, we contact the ship’s agent and request corrective action. We also log the complaint and advise Transport Canada through monthly reports.

Public comments on the interim protocol

For all comments on the protocol, members of the public should contact Transport Canada by email: [email protected].

More information:

Transport Canada’s Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern B.C. Anchorages