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Vancouver Fraser Port Authority expands noise reduction criteria to encourage quieter waters for endangered whales

February 11, 2019

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has expanded its industry-leading EcoAction* Program to encourage ships that call on the Port of Vancouver to quiet the waters for the endangered whale population along the southern coast of British Columbia.

Effective January 1, 2019, the port authority increased the number of underwater noise-reducing options and updated the air emissions reduction options eligible for discounted harbour dues through its EcoAction Program. Incentives to reduce ship noise were first added to the port authority’s EcoAction Program in 2017, making Canada the first country in the world to encourage quieter ships.

Ships calling on the Port of Vancouver that use technologies to reduce emissions, underwater noise, and other environmental effects can apply for reduced harbour dues of up to 47 per cent. Underwater noise caused by ships can interfere with marine mammals’ ability to feed and communicate, so the EcoAction Program enhancements provide more options to help encourage shipping companies to use features and technologies to reduce underwater noise. The program supports the efforts of the port authority-led Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program, which is a collaborative research initiative that aims to reduce the effects of shipping on at-risk whales in the region.

The EcoAction Program now accepts quiet ship notations from four different ship classification societies (the non-governmental organizations that establish and maintain technical standards for the construction and operation of ships), a performance indicator level from an environmental certification program for the maritime industry, and five propeller technologies, all of which can help reduce underwater noise emissions. Ships that have one or more of these quiet ship notations, performance indicator level or technologies are eligible to apply for the reduced fees

“Providing ship owners with a range of incentives and options to encourage quieter ships is one more way we are working with the port community to balance protection of our environment and facilitate increased trade,” said Duncan Wilson, vice president of environment, community and government affairs at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. “We look forward to seeing more shipping companies adding quieter ships and underwater noise-quieting technologies to their fleets in the future.”

The expanded incentive program also supports the federal government’s commitment under its Oceans Protection Plan to protect Canada’s at-risk whales, including the endangered southern resident killer whale population.

“Offering incentives to shipping lines to reduce underwater noise through improved ship design and technology helps support regional efforts to reduce threats to whales,” continues Wilson. “The protection of the endangered southern resident killer whale is a goal we share with the Government of Canada, and we look forward to continuing to work together with the marine industry and government to support the recovery of this iconic species.”

For further information on these programs, please visit:

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 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 EcoAction Program

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s EcoAction Program, launched in 2007, offers discounts on harbour dues to commercial cargo ships meeting voluntary environmental best practices that reduce emissions, underwater noise and other environmental impacts. These practices include obtaining third-party environmental designations, using cleaner fuels, and noise-reducing technologies.

*Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s use of the name EcoAction refers to a program specifically intended to promote improved environmental performance within the shipping industry and is not related to the EcoAction Community Funding Program administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada

About the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (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, marine industry, First Nations individuals, environmental and conservation organizations, and scientific experts. It was developed 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 develop voluntary measures that will lead to a reduction in threats to whales from shipping activities.

Media contact
Rachel Wong
Strategic Communications Advisor – ECHO Program
[email protected]

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