​Post-strike recovery – anchorage allocation measures​

July 17, 2023

The 13-day-long strike action has significantly disrupted port operations. As a result, a number of commercial vessels are currently waiting offshore to enter the Port of Vancouver and proceed with cargo loading or unloading operations. Unfortunately, due to the limited availability of anchorages at the Port of Vancouver and in the South Coast region, it is not feasible to accommodate all vessels simultaneously.  

As the port authority begins the recovery process and works towards clearing backlogs, we will implement a priority-based anchorage allocation system to balance the needs of all business sectors and commodities. This approach builds on the positive results from the contingency actions we took to recover from past disruptions at major terminals.  

The recovery measures are based on these key considerations: 

  • Categorize vessels based on terminal/shipper priority and importance: Vessel categorization is determined by factors such as cargo type and labour availability, berthing windows, and critical supply chain requirements. The port authority will coordinate closely with terminals—on their operating plans—and shippers—on their vessel lineups—to determine priorities.
  • Allocate anchorages based on estimated time of berthing (ETBs): Vessels will be assigned to anchorages based on their ETBs. Vessels scheduled to berth within 48 hours will be given higher priority at Port of Vancouver anchorages (i.e., English Bay and Indian Arm), ensuring flexibility for terminal operations.
  • Inner Harbour anchorages: These anchorages will facilitate short-term stays for bunkering, hold inspections, fumigation, and staging to/from terminals, etc., to expedite the arrival and departure processes. Agents are strongly recommended to plan these activities closer to the vessel’s berthing window or departure to minimize the number of transits through the southern resident killer whale’s critical habitat.
  • Southern Gulf Islands and other South Coast anchorages: These anchorages will be used as an overflow area for waiting vessels. Container vessels are encouraged to first maximize the use of Constance Bank anchorages.   
  • Regular review and adjustment of priorities: Continuously review and adjust the priority categories based on changing circumstances and demands. This approach will allow for flexibility in adapting to evolving situations, ensuring that the allocation system remains fair and responsive.
  • Transparent communication: Maintain open communication channels with port users and stakeholders, and clearly explain the priority-based allocation system and the criteria used for vessel categorization. Share regular and timely updates regarding any changes to priorities or allocation procedures to ensure understanding and cooperation.
  • Collaboration with port users and stakeholders: Engage in collaborative discussions with port users, shippers, terminal operators, shipping companies and other stakeholders to gather input and feedback on the priority-based allocation system. This dialogue and collaboration will help refine the system and address any concerns or suggestions from the involved parties. 

By implementing a priority-based anchorage allocation system, the limited anchorage capacity will be managed in a way that supports the time sensitivity and importance of different ships and cargo, ensuring equitable distribution of shared resources.  

We kindly request your cooperation and understanding during this transition period. We acknowledge that we will need to adapt as the recovery progresses, but we firmly believe that these new measures are crucial to the efficient operation of the port and mitigating disruptions caused by the recent strike activity.

In case of any questions or clarifications, please reach out to our 24/7 Operations Centre at 604-665-9086 or email [email protected] 

Thank you for your continued support to the Port of Vancouver.