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Port authority-led ECHO Program wins award for leadership in ocean conservation

April 3, 2019

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority-led Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program received the Award for Conservation Leadership in Support of Corporate Responsibility at this week’s Ocean Awards gala held at the Vancouver Aquarium. The award recognized the progressive efforts of the ECHO Program and its ability to collaboratively advance meaningful ocean conservation work.

The ECHO Program is a collaborative initiative that brings together government agencies, the marine industry, conservation and environmental groups, First Nations individuals and scientists to better understand and reduce the cumulative effects of commercial vessel-related activities on at-risk whales in this region.

“We are honoured to receive this award, which recognizes not just the important work of the ECHO Program, but the collaborative efforts of a diverse group of advisors and partners who are working together to support the recovery of southern resident killer whales,” said Orla Robinson, ECHO Program manager.

Since its inception in 2014, the ECHO Program has advanced a number of world-leading research projects on reducing underwater noise from vessels and has implemented several large-scale voluntary underwater noise reduction initiatives, made possible because of the collaborations of many partners and participants.

In the last few years, over 5,000 vessel passes have been measured, accumulating the biggest database of vessel noise measurements in the world. Over the last two summers, nearly 2,000 deep sea vessels slowed down in Haro Strait to reduce underwater noise in this important southern resident killer whale feeding area.

In 2017, based on results of research studies undertaken by the ECHO Program, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority introduced underwater noise reduction incentives to quiet vessels calling at the Port of Vancouver, making Canada the first country in the world with a marine noise reduction incentive.

“There is of course, still more work to be done,” continued Robinson. “We believe the ECHO Program is an excellent model for implementing measureable change in support of ocean conservation, and we couldn’t be more grateful to all those who have been along with us on this journey so far.”

The ECHO Program was one of six award recipients of the 2018 Ocean Awards and the second winner of the Award for Conservation Leadership in Support of Corporate Responsibility. Ocean Award recipients are honoured for their invaluable contributions to understanding, conserving, and communicating the diverse and irreplaceable aquatic ecosystems of western Canada and the species that inhabit them.


About the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is responsible for the stewardship of the federal port lands that make up the Port of Vancouver. 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.

About the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program

The Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program is a collaborative research and management initiative led by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, with the input and advice of government agencies, the marine industry, First Nations individuals, environmental and conservation organizations, and scientific experts. It was launched in 2014 to better understand the cumulative effects of shipping activities on at-risk whales throughout the southern coast of British Columbia. The long-term goal for the ECHO Program is to to quantifiably reduce threats from commercial marine vessel-related activities to endangered whales.

Media contacts
Rachel Wong
Communications Advisor – Environmental Programs
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority
[email protected]

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