Reducing underwater noise

Underwater noise is increasing. In the north Pacific Ocean, underwater noise is estimated to have doubled in intensity every decade for the past 60 years. Commercial shipping is one of the main contributors to this increase, and ship traffic and volumes are expected to increase alongside Canada’s growing population and trade volumes. Underwater noise has been shown to interfere with the marine mammals ability perform key functions, such as navigating, communicating, hunting prey, and avoiding danger.

Our 2023 underwater noise management plan

There are two primary port-related sources of underwater noise that can affect marine mammals: ship traffic and infrastructure development on port lands and waters, including in-water construction work. As the port authority does not have direct control over the majority of port-related activities generating underwater noise, we take a collaborative approach to tackling underwater noise, such as by working with port tenants and the broader marine transportation industry to implement measures that reduce underwater noise.

Two of our programs—the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program and the EcoAction Program—are helping to manage and mitigate underwater noise from ship movement in and around the port. Our Project and Environmental Review (PER) process helps us manage and mitigate underwater noise effects from development and construction projects on port lands and waters.

Learn more about our approach to understanding, managing and mitigating the effects of port-related underwater noise on marine mammals in our 2023 Underwater Noise Management Plan.