A collaborative effort to create quieter oceans for healthier whales
The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a known foraging area within the critical habitat of southern resident killer whales, which are listed as endangered in both Canada and the United States. Both countries’ governments have identified underwater noise from ships as one of the key threats to killer whales, due to its interference with their ability to hunt, navigate and communicate via echolocation.
To reduce the effects of commercial shipping on at-risk whales in this key foraging area, the port authority-led Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program coordinates a voluntary lateral displacement in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, in collaboration with government agencies, the marine transportation industry, environmental groups, and Indigenous communities.
The Strait of Juan de Fuca lateral displacement is one of three underwater noise reduction initiatives coordinated by the ECHO Program in the Salish Sea. Since 2017, these initiatives have encouraged thousands of ship operators to slow down or stay distanced in southern resident killer whale critical habitat, reducing underwater sound intensity by up to 55% in slowdown areas, and by up to 70% per tug transit.
From June 1 to October 31, all tugboats transiting in the Canadian inshore area of the Strait of Juan de Fuca are requested to move south of the known killer whale feeding area, if and when it is navigationally safe do so.
To learn more, visit the following resources:
Success requires collaboration
The logistics of coordinating a lateral displacement outside of the port authority’s jurisdiction are complex and involve collaboration with many other advisors and partners. The port authority is very grateful for the ongoing participation and support of our many advisors and partners who contribute to the continued success of these voluntary initiatives. This voluntary inshore displacement initiative is one of the commitments of the ECHO Program’s Species at Risk Act, Section 11 Conservation Agreement.
Questions or feedback
For more information on the lateral displacement, please contact the ECHO Program team at [email protected] or the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Operations Centre which is available 24/7 at 604.665.9086. For updates on the lateral displacement and other ECHO Program initiatives, please subscribe to the ECHO Program newsletter.