Conservation Agreement

About the Conservation Agreement

In May 2019, the Government of Canada, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Pacific Pilotage Authority, and five organizations from across the marine transportation industry entered into a first-of-its-kind Species at Risk Act, Section 11 conservation agreement to support the recovery of the southern resident killer whales. In May 2024, this agreement was renewed for another five-year term with all original parties.

Under the Species At Risk Act, the agreement commits the parties to work together to quantifiably reduce threats to southern resident killer whales from commercial ships, such as underwater noise, through continued participation in the port authority-led Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program. The agreement outlines three strategic priorities: taking action to advance real-time whale presence notifications to commercial ship operators; supporting the transition to quieter vessels; and convening collaborators to maintain high levels of engagement and participation in voluntary ship slowdowns and route alterations.

Collectively, the marine transportation organizations that signed the agreement represent all the large commercial ship traffic that currently transits to and from the Port of Vancouver and passes through southern resident killer whale critical habitat. The nine parties to the agreement are: Chamber of Shipping; Council of Marine Carriers; Cruise Lines International Association; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; International Ship-Owners Alliance of Canada; Pacific Pilotage Authority; Shipping Federation of Canada; Transport Canada; and Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

To date, over the course of the agreement, the parties have successfully advanced measures led by the ECHO Program that encouraged thousands of commercial ships traveling to and from the Port of Vancouver to avoid or slow down in southern resident killer whale critical habitat. These initiatives also reduced underwater sound intensity by up to 50% in key areas of southern resident killer whale critical habitat and reduced the risk of ships colliding with whales by up to nearly one-third in some locations.

Signatories to the agreement

The nine signatories to the conservation agreement are:

Fisheries and Oceans Canada Shipping Federation of Canada
Transport Canada Cruise Lines International Association
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Council of Marine Carriers
Pacific Pilotage Authority International Ship Owners Alliance of Canada
Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia

These nine signatories to the agreement sit on the Conservation Agreement management committee, which oversees the implementation and effectiveness of the agreement and provides a collaborative forum to discuss matters regarding the agreement.