Marine traffic management

How is the port authority managing increased marine traffic through the port?

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is federally mandated to facilitate Canada’s trade through the Port of Vancouver, ensuring goods are moved safely while protecting the environment and considering local communities. In this role, we work to make sure the port is ready to handle Canada’s trade growth. 

On average, around 3,000 ships call on the port each year. That’s about nine ships moving through more than 16,000 hectares of port waters each day. For more than a decade, the port has experienced steady trade growth–even in the face of global economic and geopolitical challenges—and that growth is predicted to continue.  

To better understand and prepare for the future of marine traffic moving to and from the Port of Vancouver, we track the number of commercial ships traveling in the region, study world shipping trends and analyze trade forecasts. 

As cargo volumes transiting through the port continue to grow, we are collaborating with industry and engaging Indigenous groups and coastal communities to develop the Active Vessel Traffic Management (AVTM) Program. Through this initiative, we are optimizing the flow of goods that move in and out of the Port of Vancouver with a view to improve the efficiency and resiliency of the supply chain, while ensuring ship safety and reducing the impact of trade on the environment and coastal communities. This includes harnessing technology for more efficient port calls and rethinking how we assign and use anchorages within our navigational jurisdiction. 

As part of our ongoing initiatives to actively manage ship traffic bound for the Port of Vancouver, we developed and implemented the first anchorage code of conduct in Canada, which outlines the practices we ask ship captains anchoring commercial vessels at the Port of Vancouver and around the Southern Gulf Islands to follow to minimize their overall impact on coastal communities and the environment. Information about the anchorage code of conduct is included in our Port Information Guide.  

Managing the environmental impacts of marine traffic

In addition to managing ship traffic through the port, we also work with the shipping industry, Indigenous groups, government, environmental organizations, and the academic community to mitigate the impact of commercial marine shipping on wildlife in and around port land and waters. 

One of the ways we do this is through our work with over a hundred Canadian and U.S. partners and advisors from across government agencies, the marine transportation industry, Indigenous communities, and environmental groups on the port authority-led ECHO program. This science-based collaborative program works to reduce the cumulative impacts of commercial shipping on at-risk whales, with a particular focus on reducing underwater noise.  

We also work closely with the shipping industry to address climate change and air emissions at the port through initiatives such as our EcoAction Program. This program incentivizes shipping companies to reduce their environmental footprint by investing in sustainable technologies, such as renewable energy to reduce air emissions, installing propeller technologies to reduce underwater noise, or obtaining third-party environmental designations.  

To further support sustainable practices within the marine industry, we’ve taken steps such as expanding shore power facilities at the Port of Vancouver, which allow equipped cruise and container ships to turn off their diesel-powered engines while at berth and access hydroelectric power to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.  

These are just a few of the many environmental programs and initiatives we’re leading to advance our vision for the Port of Vancouver to be the world’s most sustainable port. 

For more information on shipping and the environment, visit these resources:
Transport Canada Shipping and the Environment
International Maritime Organization
Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions
Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Shipping