Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program | Port of Vancouver

Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program

The southern coast of British Columbia is home to one of the world’s most productive coastal ecosystems, sustaining numerous populations of whales, porpoises and dolphins, including the endangered southern resident killer whales. 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 stewardship of the lands and waters that make up the Port of Vancouver’s jurisdiction in and around Vancouver, British Columbia. Recognizing that commercial marine activity in the region is increasing, and 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. The ECHO Program’s work does not focus on any individual organization, nor any specific external project, program or initiative. Instead, the ECHO Program seeks to bring all relevant interests together to combine efforts and leverage shared resources in support of at-risk whales in the region.