Boost in recreational boaters prompts safety reminders from port authority and police ahead of long weekend
As activity in the Vancouver harbour increases with more commercial and recreational boaters sharing the waterways, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and Vancouver Police Department Marine Unit are encouraging boaters to follow safe boating practices.
“In the last five years, we’ve seen a large increase in recreational boaters in the harbour while, at the same time, commercial traffic continues to grow and ships are getting bigger,” said Jason Krott, manager of marine operations at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. “As boating season ramps up and more people are sharing the waterways, it’s more critical than ever to follow safe boating practices to ensure everyone’s safety on the water.”
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is responsible for maintaining the safe and efficient movement of marine traffic within the Port of Vancouver. In partnership with other agencies, such as the Vancouver Police Department Marine Unit, the port authority regularly assists to keep shipping lanes clear of small vessel traffic.
“As the temperature increases, so do the activities in and around Vancouver harbours. The VPD’s Marine Unit encourages anyone operating a vessel to practice safe boating and to remember that the operator is responsible for the safety of everyone on board,” says Sergeant Jason Robillard, Vancouver Police Department. “Be alert, ensure that all passengers on board are always wearing a personal flotation device, and follow the mandatory speed restrictions within the inner harbour.”
One of the recent safety measures implemented by the port authority includes a mandatory 15-knot speed restriction in the approaches to Lion’s Gate Bridge to ensure recreational boaters slow down when transiting the area. Commercial ships are already required to travel at a maximum of 10 knots. In addition, the port authority recently updated the boundaries of the shipping lanes for cargo ships approaching Lion’s Gate Bridge to ensure they can more safely enter Burrard Inlet.
For boaters planning to head out on the water this long weekend, be sure to review the port authority’s safe boating guidelines and follow the rules of the water.
- Watch out for large ships – Large, deep-sea cargo ships have limited visibility. Don’t assume they can see you. They also can’t move quickly, especially in narrow channels. Even if you have the right-of-way, you must yield to them.
- Never get between a tugboat and its tow – Watch for tug boats as the tow cables are often submerged and not visible.
- Look up and listen in seaplane landing area – Remember to look up, listen, and check regularly for landing aircraft. Seaplanes are especially difficult to see and hear during landing and need plenty of space.
- Listen to signals from other ships – Always be aware of other ships and boats around you. If you hear five or more short and rapid blasts of a ship’s whistle, this means you’re in immediate danger and must clear the area. Monitor VHF (Very High Frequency) 16 and 12 on your radio.
- Go slowly – The waters are busier this time of year. Go a little slower, give yourself more time and plan your day accordingly. The port authority has implemented a number of new speed zones in Port Moody and Indian Arm for greater safety in congested areas. These can be found in the Port Information Guide.
- Report incidents – If you see anyone violating the safe boating practices, contact the Port Operations Center 24/7 at: 604.665.9086 to report the incident. In an emergency, press *16 on your mobile phone, VHF: 16 on your radio or, as always, you can phone 911.
- All vessels operating within Canada’s waterways are governed by the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and are subject to collision regulations. In addition, Canada’s Criminal Code also applies to boating. These laws ensure the waterways remain safe for all users.
For more information, visit portvancouver.com/safeboating to review the safe boating guides for the Burrard Inlet and Fraser River.
- Burrard Inlet Safe Boating Guide [PDF]
- Fraser River Safe Boating Guide [PDF]
- For up-to-date information on safety tips and requirements for pleasure crafts, see Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety
- Port Information Guide [PDF] for localized practices and procedures at the Port of Vancouver
- VPD Marine Unit
About the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority:
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is responsible for the stewardship of the federal port lands in and around Vancouver, British Columbia. It is financially self-sufficient and accountable to the federal minister of transport and operates pursuant to the Canada Marine Act. The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest, and the third largest in North America by tonnes of cargo, facilitating trade between Canada and more than 170 world economies. Located in a naturally beautiful setting on Canada’s west coast, the port authority and port terminals and tenants are responsible for the efficient and reliable movement of goods and passengers, integrating environmental, social and economic sustainability initiatives into all areas of port operations. Enabling the trade of approximately $200 billion in goods, port activities sustain 115,300 jobs, $7 billion in wages, and $11.9 billion in GDP across Canada.
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