2024 Strait of Juan de Fuca voluntary inshore lateral displacement

A collaborative effort to create quieter oceans for healthier whales  

The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a known area of importance 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 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 threat reduction initiatives coordinated by the ECHO Program off the coasts of British Columbia and Washington State. 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.

About the 2024 voluntary inshore lateral displacement for tugboat operators

From June 1 to October 31, 2024, all tugboats transiting in the Canadian inshore area of the Strait of Juan de Fuca are requested to move south of the known area of importance to southern resident killer whales, if and when it is navigationally safe do so.

To learn more, visit the following resources:

Success requires collaboration

The logistics of coordinating a voluntary 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.

Annual reports, questions or feedback

A summary of the 2023 lateral displacement in the Strait of Juan de Fuca can be found here: Summary report – 2023 SJDF lateral displacement. For access to previous years’ annual reports, please contact the ECHO Program team at [email protected].

For questions or comments on the ECHO Program, send an email to [email protected].or call the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Operations Centre at 604.665.9086. For updates on the lateral displacement and other ECHO Program initiatives, please subscribe to the ECHO Program newsletter.