Vancouver-based program aimed at better understanding and managing the impact of shipping activities on at-risk whales wins Lloyd’s List Environmental Award
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority-led Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program received top honour in the environment category at this year’s Lloyd’s List Americas Awards gala. The award recognizes the institution, company or individual that has done the most to reduce the pollution of the marine environment in the Americas from maritime sources.
“We are extremely proud to receive the Lloyd’s List Environment Award for the important work being done through the ECHO Program to support the recovery of southern resident killer whales,” said Duncan Wilson, vice president corporate social responsibility at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. “We’d like to thank our industry, government, academic, First Nation, conservation and environmental group partners who have worked with us to deliver this world-leading environmental program”
Last summer, the ECHO Program initiated a first-of-its-kind vessel slowdown trial to study the relationship between slower vessel speed and underwater noise and the resultant effect on the southern resident killer whales.
During the trial period, commercial vessels transiting a corridor of about 16 nautical miles were asked to navigate over listening stations (hydrophones) and reduce their speed to 11 knots, where it was feasible and safe to do so. More than 60 marine industry organizations voluntarily took part in the trial, which allowed for enough data to be collected and to support rigourous analysis and sound scientific conclusions on the effectiveness of the trial.
“Industry’s commitment to this voluntary research trial is a clear demonstration of the collective focus we have on ensuring a healthy marine environment, and we greatly appreciate our partners’ support and look forward to our continued collaborative efforts,” continued Wilson.
The ECHO Program continues to work towards finalizing the results of the trial, including modelling the behavior of southern resident killer whales as a result of decreased vessel noise. When the analysis is complete, the program will work with its advisors and partners to determine potential next steps to this complex, cumulative environmental management issue.
About 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 financially self-sufficient and 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.
About the ECHO Program
The ECHO Program is a collaborative research and management initiative led by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority with the input and advice of government agencies, First Nations individuals, marine industry users, environmental and conservation organizations, and scientific experts. It was developed to better understand the cumulative impacts of shipping on at-risk southern resident killer whales throughout the southern coast of British Columbia and supports a series of projects, scientific studies and education initiatives to study these impacts and inform potential voluntary mitigation solutions.
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