ECHO Program research, reports, and peer-reviewed papers

The world-leading science produced by the ECHO Program and its partners is helping government, the port authority, and the broader national and international marine industry better understand how to reduce the impacts of marine shipping on at-risk whales.

While the ECHO Program’s focus is on acoustic disturbance – one of the four key threats identified by Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s facing at-risk whales in the region – the ECHO Program also supports other threat reduction projects such as those focused on physical disturbances and environmental contaminants.

Below you’ll find a list of ECHO Program research studies, peer-reviewed papers, and annual reports detailing ongoing or completed projects and initiatives. For summaries of the ECHO Program’s voluntary underwater noise reduction initiatives, see the ECHO Program projects and initiatives page.

Study name



Quiet ship notations alignment In collaboration with international ship classification societies, acoustic experts, and representatives from the International Organization for Standardization, this project seeks to create consistency in the methodologies used for measuring, analyzing, and representing units for quiet vessel notations. Read the final report: Recommended Procedures for Measuring Underwater Radiated Noise Emissions of Ships for Quiet Ship Certification

Excel file: 
RNL Scaled quantiles
(September 2023)

Co-benefits study To better understand the benefits of the ECHO Program’s ship slowdowns, this study evaluated how the program’s slowdowns may affect air emissions and whale strike risk. Read the full study
(May 2023)
Burrard Inlet underwater noise monitoring In partnership with Tsleil-Waututh Nation, this project measures sources of noise from port activities while monitoring longer-term trends in total ambient noise and marine mammal presence in Burrard Inlet. Read 2019 report
(August 2020)
Read 2020 report
(May 2021)
Read 2021 report
(April 2021)
Read 2022 report
(June 2023)
Boundary Pass listening station This project analyzes acoustic data acquired by Transport Canada’s Boundary Pass underwater listening station (ULS) to understand trends in ambient noise levels, marine mammal presence and source levels of commercial vessels. Read Year 1 report
(March 2020)
Read Year 2 report
(June 2021)
Read Year 3 report
(July 2022)
Read Year 4 report
(June 2023)
Ambient noise evaluation This project evaluated two years of ambient noise data collected at three hydrophones throughout the Salish Sea in order to assess how vessel traffic, currents, water temperature, weather, and biological components affect ambient noise. Read report
(December 2019)
Read best practices for monitoring ambient noise
(June 2021)
Quiet vessel design case studies These case studies capture lessons learned about designing and building quieter vessels to provide guidance to prospective ship owners looking to incorporate underwater noise reduction requirements into their ship build. The first case study is based on BC Ferries major vessels project.  

Read quiet vessel case study
(September 2021)

Completed research projects and studies

Cavitation inception speed study The goal of this study was to determine if it was possible to identify cavitation in a vessel’s acoustic signature, and from this, identify the speed at which cavitation is being produced. Read report
(February 2023)
Ship noise localization at Boundary Pass The goal of this project is to determine whether hydrophone arrays at the Boundary Pass underwater listening station can identify the frequency and intensity of different noise sources (propeller, engine etc.) found on a vessel. Read report
(August 2022)
Vessel noise correlations study What are the correlations between ship characteristics and underwater radiated noise levels? This study seeks to assess which vessel design characteristics result in the lowest noise emissions, and how reliable those characteristics are at predicting underwater noise levels. Read Phase 1 report
(May 2020)
Read Phase 2 report
(January 2021)
Read Phase 3 report
(March 2022)
Strait of Georgia underwater listening station From 2015-2018, the Strait of Georgia underwater listening station was deployed to evaluate the feasibility of measuring total ambient underwater noise, marine mammal presence, and source levels from ships in near-real time. Read report
(December 2018)
Management of contaminants during underwater hull cleaning This project investigated if cleaning a ship’s hull may result in reductions to fuel consumption and underwater noise. Read report
(March 2019)
Incentives for underwater noise – Ship quieting options study What makes ships quieter? This study assessed options for reducing underwater noise from ships in order to provide recommendations for the port authority’s EcoAction Program, which incentivizes ship operators to go above and beyond environmental regulations. Read report
(January 2017)
Regional ocean noise contributors What are the largest contributors to underwater noise in the Salish Sea? This modelling study assessed the underwater noise contributions of various marine transportation sectors to overall underwater noise in the Salish Sea. Read report
(January 2017)
Large whale aerial surveys and strike risk assessment Where is the risk of whale vessel strike the greatest? This project, led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, used aerial surveillance and satellite tagging data to assess ship strike risk to large whales off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Read Fisheries and Oceans report
(July 2017)Read Nichols et al peer reviewed publication
(May 2017)