Federal government’s new commitments to protect whales under the Oceans Protection Plan include support for port authority ECHO Program
Vancouver, B.C.: The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority applauds the Fisheries and Ocean Canada’s recent announcement to invest more than $12 million in new science funding and research projects to study the impacts of reduced prey availability and underwater noise on marine animals, including the southern resident killer whale, as part of the Oceans Protection Plan.
An underwater listening station in the Strait of Georgia, part of the port authority-led Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program, is one of four projects receiving this funding. The port authority was awarded $200,000 to continue operating the underwater listening station in the Strait of Georgia for a third year.
“A key focus of the ECHO Program is supporting the recovery of southern resident killer whales, and the listening station is critical to our understanding of how underwater vessel noise might be affecting these and other at-risk species,” said Duncan Wilson, vice president, corporate social responsibility at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.
The listening station is helping scientists to understand how the noise levels of ships destined for the Port of Vancouver, as well as other vessels including ferries, recreational vessels and whale watching boats, may be impacting whales, which use sound to locate their prey. The station can also be used to test possible mitigation solutions, such as the impacts of cleaner hulls, new propeller technologies or different operating conditions.
“We are grateful for this important financial contribution as it will allow us to add to the science that will support evidence-based decision making on possible measures to reduce the impact of vessel noise on whales,” continued Wilson. “This work also contributes to our vision of being the world’s most sustainable port.”
Data collected from the Strait of Georgia underwater listening station and two additional listening stations in Haro Strait, was central to the research of the ECHO Program during a vessel slowdown trial in the Haro Strait last summer, a study that also received federal funding support. The trial, which relied on the voluntary participation of commercial shippers, compared noise levels for vessels at standard and reduced speeds to better understand the relationship between vessel speed and sound. Thanks to a high voluntary participation rate among shippers, the study is yielding meaningful results. Interim results are now available on the port authority website, and final results will be released later this spring.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority looks forward to continued collaboration with the federal government on progressive actions to ensure the Port of Vancouver remains competitive, safe and sustainable.
About the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is responsible for the stewardship of the federal port lands in and around Vancouver, British Columbia. It is accountable to the federal minister of transport and operates pursuant to the Canada Marine Act. The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest, and the third largest in North America by tonnes of cargo, facilitating trade between Canada and more than 170 world economies. Located in a naturally beautiful setting on Canada’s west coast, the port authority and port terminals and tenants are responsible for the efficient and reliable movement of goods and passengers, integrating environmental, social and economic sustainability initiatives into all areas of port operations. Enabling the trade of approximately $200 billion in goods, port activities sustain 115,300 jobs, $7 billion in wages, and $11.9 billion in GDP across Canada.
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