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

Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program

British Columbia’s productive coastal ecosystem sustains 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. 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.