Latest News

ECHO Program celebrates five-year anniversary of collaborative action to support recovery of southern resident killer whales

June 1, 2021

Since 2017, the port authority-led ECHO Program has coordinated voluntary underwater noise reduction initiatives encouraging ships to slow down or stay distanced in southern resident killer whale critical habitat areas 

Vancouver, B.C.: The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority-led Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program is celebrating its five-year anniversary of coordinating voluntary underwater noise reduction initiatives in southern resident killer whale (SRKW) critical habitat areas off British Columbia’s southern coast.  

To date, over 80 shipping organizations have participated in the ECHO Program’s initiatives and more than six thousand ships have either slowed down or stayed distanced within southern resident killer whale critical habitat, reducing underwater sound intensity by nearly 50% during its initiatives. 

Starting today, the ECHO Program is launching another season of voluntary measures including a ship slowdown at Swiftsure Bank and a lateral displacement in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, while a third initiative at Haro Strait and Boundary Pass will be activated upon confirmation of southern resident killer whale presence in the area. 

The long-term goal of the ECHO Program is to quantifiably reduce the cumulative impacts of commercial shipping on at risk-whales, with particular focus on reducing acoustic disturbance, one of the four key threat areas identified by the Government of Canada’s southern resident killer whale recovery strategy. 

To implement its yearly initiatives, the ECHO Program collaborates with over a hundred advisors and partners from U.S. and Canadian government agencies, the marine transportation industry, Indigenous communities, environmental groups, and scientists. 

“We are incredibly proud of what the ECHO Program has achieved over the last five years towards supporting the recovery of one of B.C.’s most iconic species,” said Duncan Wilson, vice president, environment, community and government affairs at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. “The continued strong participation of the marine transportation industry in the ECHO Program is a testament to the effectiveness of voluntary efforts at driving meaningful change towards quieter oceans.”

For more information on the ECHO Program’s voluntary underwater noise reduction initiatives and the program’s participants, advisors, and partners see: 

Media contact:  
[email protected]  

About the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and the Port of Vancouver  

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is the federal agency responsible for the stewardship of the Port of Vancouver. Like all Canada Port Authorities, we are accountable to the federal minister of transport, and operate pursuant to the Canada Marine Act with a mandate to enable Canada’s trade through the Port of Vancouver, while protecting the environment and considering local communities. The port authority is structured as a non-share corporation, is financially self-sufficient and does not rely on tax dollars for operations. Our revenues come from port terminals and tenants who lease port lands, and from port users who pay various fees such as harbour dues. Profits are reinvested in port infrastructure. The port authority has control over the use of port land and water, which includes more than 16,000 hectares of water, over 1,500 hectares of land, and approximately 350 kilometres of shoreline. Located on the southwest coast of British Columbia in Canada, the Port of Vancouver extends from Roberts Bank and the Fraser River up to and including Burrard Inlet, bordering 16 municipalities and intersecting the traditional territories and treaty lands of several Coast Salish First Nations. The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest port, and the third largest in North America by tonnes of cargo. Enabling the trade of approximately $240 billion in goods with more than 170 countries, port activities sustain 115,300 jobs, $7 billion in wages, and $11.9 billion in GDP across Canada. 

See All News

Share this story: