2017 Vessel Slowdown Trial in Haro Strait

2017 Vessel slowdown trial report [interactive report]

Between August 7 and October 6, 2017 the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s ECHO Program led the vessel slowdown trial in Haro Strait to better understand and measure the level of noise reduction which is achieved through reduced vessel speed.

2017 Vessel slowdown trial report [interactive report]

The results of the trial demonstrated that reducing vessel speeds is an effective way of reducing the underwater noise generated at the vessel source, as well as reducing total underwater noise in nearby habitats which may in turn benefit the behaviour and feeding success of the southern resident killer whale.


The population of endangered southern resident killer whales is just 76 individuals (December 2017) and the species has shown little sign of recovery since the 1980s. Acoustic disturbance from vessel noise is identified by the federal government as a key threat to the recovery of the southern resident killer whale (SRKW). Research indicates that underwater vessel noise can interfere with their ability to hunt, navigate and communicate with each other. SRKW critical habitat directly overlaps with international shipping routes, ferry routes and other marine traffic routes in the Salish Sea.

The trial aimed to better understand and measure the level of noise reduction which is achieved through reduced vessel speed. During the trial, the ECHO Program team used AIS to monitor and measure commercial vessel participation rates, and hydrophones to assess the impact of reducing vessel speed on underwater noise. Potential financial and operational impacts to the shipping industry were also evaluated.

The voluntary trial was planned and coordinated by the ECHO Program with the assistance of a vessel operators committee representing BC Coast Pilots, BC Ferries, the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, Cruise Line International Association North West and Canada, Hapag-Lloyd (Canada) Inc., Holland America Group, the Shipping Federation of Canada, the Pacific Pilotage Authority, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Washington State Ferries and Transport Canada .

Trial participants

To see the organizations who participated in the 2017 vessel slowdown trial, please click the drop down menu below:

Thank you to the following organizations for taking part in the 2017 vessel slowdown trial:

AAL Shipping
ACGI Shipping Inc.
BC Coast Pilots
BC Ferries
Buchanan Cruises, LLC
Carnival Cruise Line
Celebrity Cruise Lines
Chamber of Shipping
Colley West Shipping Ltd.
Cruise Lines International Association North West and Canada
Crystal Cruises
CSL International
Disney Cruise Line
Evergreen Line
Fairmont Shipping (Canada) Ltd.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
G2 Ocean
Georgia Strait Alliance
Hamburg Sud
Holland America Line
Hudson Shipping Lines
Inchcape Shipping Services
International Ship-Owners Alliance of Canada
K Line
Mason Agency Ltd.
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines
Montship Inc.
MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company
Navitrans Shipping Agencies West Inc.
Neptune Bulk Terminal
Norton Lilly Vancouver
Norwegian Cruise Line
NYK Line
Oceaenia Cruises
Oxbow Sulphur Canada
Pacific Basin Shipping
Pacific NorthWest Ship & Cargo Services Inc.
Pacific Pilotage Authority
Princess Cruise Line
Ravensdown Shipping Services Ltd.
Robert Reford
Royal Canadian Navy
Royal Caribbean International Cruise Line
SAAM SMIT Vancouver Inc.
Saga Welco AS
Seabourn Cruise Line
Seaspan ULC
Shipping Federation of Canada
Swire Shipping
Trans-Oceanic Shipping Co. Ltd
Transport Canada
Valles Steamship (Canada) Ltd.
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority
Washington State Ferries
Westward Shipping Ltd.
Westwood Shipping Lines
Wheelhouse Shipping Agency
Wilhelmsen Ships Service

We would like to thank the following organizations for foregoing their stipends to support continued ECHO Program research.

Evergreen Shipping Agency (America) Corporation
Holland America Line
Pacific Basin Shipping
Princess Cruise Line
Ravensdown Shipping Services Pty Ltd
Saga Welco AS
Seabourn Sojourn
Washington State Ferries


Next steps

Informed by the results of the 2017 vessel slowdown trial, the ECHO Program, with the collaborative input from the Vessel Operators Committee, will be undertaking another voluntary slowdown in Haro Strait in 2018 when killer whales are present.

Learn more about the 2018 underwater noise reduction projects.


Vessel slowdown trial – backgrounder [PDF]
Vessel slowdown trial – infographic [PDF]
Vessel slowdown trial – final report [interactive report]
ECHO Program

Archive newsletters

Pre-trial update August 2
Pre-trial update August 9
Newsletter Week 1
Newsletter Week 2
Newsletter Week 3
Newsletter Week 4
Newsletter Week 5
Newsletter Week 6
Newsletter Week 7  
Newsletter Week 8
Newsletter Week 9
Newsletter wrap-up

Please check back to this page for up-to-date information about the trial including resources, announcements and changes. Or subscribe to receive regular updates.