British Columbia has a productive coastal ecosystem that sustains numerous populations of whales, porpoises and dolphins, collectively known as cetaceans. As whales and ships share the same waters, many of the ships calling at the Port of Vancouver transit through endangered southern resident killer whale critical habitat, as well as other areas of importance to whales such as the northern resident killer whales, humpback, fin, blue, and sei whales.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is responsible for the stewardship of the federal port lands and waters that make up the Port of Vancouver in and around Vancouver, British Columbia. Recognizing that commercial marine activity in the region has the potential to impact at-risk whales, the port authority launched the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program in 2014 to better understand and reduce the cumulative effects of shipping on whales throughout the southern coast of British Columbia.
As many different organizations operate commercial vessels within the port’s jurisdiction, the ECHO Program takes a collaborative approach to addressing and understanding the cumulative effects of vessel activity on whales. To this end, the port authority works with a diverse range of partners and advisors, including government agencies, the marine transportation industry, Indigenous communities, environmental groups and scientists.
The long-term goal of the ECHO Program is to develop and implement initiatives that result in a quantifiable reduction in threats to whales as a result of shipping activities. Towards this goal, the ECHO Program is interested in bringing all relevant parties together to combine efforts and support the recovery of at-risk whales in the region.
Learn more about the ECHO Program below.
Projects and initiatives
The ECHO Program leads, collaborates on and supports a range of projects, educational initiatives and voluntary research trials.
Our partners and advisors
The ECHO Program is guided by input from a diverse range of partners and advisors to help the program focus efforts, set goals and objectives and implement voluntary measures.
Resources for mariners
Mariners play an important role in helping to protect at-risk whales in our waters. The ECHO Program provides resources for those who regularly navigate west coast waters to help familiarize them with marine mammals in the region.