Fraser River Maintenance

As the federal agency responsible for the shared stewardship of the Port of Vancouver, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority conducts annual maintenance dredging of the deep-sea channel on the Fraser River used by ships for Canada’s international trade. We fund and administer annual maintenance dredging and other port authority-led initiatives to protect and maintain the Fraser River as a key trade-enabling artery of the Vancouver gateway.  

What is dredging and why is it necessary?

Dredging involves the careful removal of sediment and debris at the bottom of a body of water, such as a river, lake, or inlet. Each year when the snow melts, the Fraser River carries millions of tonnes of sediment like silt and sand, depositing some along its route and discharging approximately 20 million tonnes into the ocean each year. If left in the river, this sediment can cause issues such as: 

  • Clogging the waterway 
  • Creating navigational hazards 
  • Impacting marine-related trade 

We dredge a deep-sea channel in the south arm of the river every year to carefully remove sediment and dispose of it in the ocean at a designated disposal at sea site or on land for development purposes. This work helps ensure the safe and efficient movement of commercial vessels through port waterways, which is vital to fulfilling our mandate to enable Canada’s trade through the Port of Vancouver. 

Does the port authority dredge the entire Fraser River?

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority dredges the deep-sea channel on the Fraser River used by ships for Canada’s international trade. The port authority is not obligated to dredge smaller, secondary channels of the Fraser River. However, we are participating in efforts alongside stakeholders and all levels of government to find a long-term, sustainable solution for local, secondary channel dredging that will protect the environment and benefit local communities.