British Columbia has a productive coastal ecosystem that sustains populations of whales, porpoises and dolphins, collectively known as cetaceans. Whales and ships share the same waters, and many of the ships calling at the Port of Vancouver transit through endangered southern resident killer whale critical habitat, as well as areas known to be of importance to other at-risk whales, including 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.
The port plays a vital economic role by connecting Canadians with the global marketplace, affecting the well-being of communities and businesses across the country. Recognizing that commercial marine activity in the region is growing, the port authority developed the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program to better understand and reduce the cumulative effects of shipping on at-risk whales throughout the southern coast of British Columbia.
The geographic scope of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s jurisdiction is limited so, in order to adequately understand and address the cumulative effects of commercial ship activity on whales regionally, a larger, collaborative approach is required. To this end, the port authority works with government agencies, the marine transportation industry, Indigenous communities, conservation and environmental groups and scientists to advance ECHO Program projects beyond port jurisdiction, specifically within the Salish Sea, as well as the waters off the western coast of Vancouver Island and the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The long-term goal of the ECHO Program is to develop mitigation measures that will lead to a quantifiable reduction in threats to whales as a result of shipping activities.
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.