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Marine industry and government sign five-year commitment to continue voluntary measures to protect Southern Resident killer whales

Press Release

May 10, 2019

Today, the marine transportation industry entered into a conservation agreement with the Government of Canada to support ongoing recovery efforts for the Southern Resident killer whale population that frequents the B.C. coast.

There are nine signatories to the agreement, including the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, the Shipping Federation of Canada, Cruise Lines International Association, the Council of Marine Carriers, the International Ship Owners Alliance of Canada, the Pacific Pilotage Authority, Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

It is the first conservation agreement for marine aquatic species under Section 11 of the Government of Canada’s Species at Risk Act, the goal of the agreement is to reduce the acoustic and physical disturbance to Southern Resident killer whales from large commercial ships and tugs that operate in killer whale critical habitat.

More specifically, the agreement confirms the continuation of existing voluntary efforts and the commitment to develop and implement new voluntary threat reduction measures to support the recovery of the Southern Resident killer whale population by formalizing the participation of all parties in the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority-led Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program.

The ECHO Program is a collaborative research initiative aimed at better understanding and reducing the cumulative effects of marine shipping on at-risk whales along the southern coast of British Columbia. Over the past two years, the ECHO Program has successfully coordinated large-scale voluntary ship slowdown initiatives along the B.C. coast involving the support and participation of many marine transportation organizations, government agencies and other partners.

With the conservation agreement, the parties have committed to work collaboratively towards the development, implementation, monitoring, assessment and adaptation of voluntary threat reduction measures. The agreement also formalizes the role of the ECHO Program in advancing research and educational outreach to better understand and reduce the impact of marine shipping activities on Southern Resident killer whales.

Marine shipping activities in British Columbia play a vital economic role by connecting Canadians with the global marketplace, affecting the well-being of communities and businesses across the country. The signing of the conservation agreement begins a five-year commitment by government and industry to reduce threats from marine shipping to the Southern Resident killer whales, while at the same time ensuring the ongoing competitiveness of Canada’s marine trade network.

Conservation agreement signatories

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is the federal lead for safeguarding our waters and managing Canada’s fisheries, oceans and freshwater resources. We support economic growth in the marine and fisheries sectors, and innovation in areas such as aquaculture and biotechnology. We help ensure healthy and sustainable aquatic ecosystems through habitat protection and sound science.

Transport Canada

Transport Canada is responsible for transportation policies and programs. It promotes safe, secure, efficient and environmentally-responsible transportation.

Transport Canada reports to Parliament and Canadians through the minister of Transport. It works with its portfolio partners, other government departments and jurisdictions, and industry to ensure that all parts of Canada’s transportation system work well.

About the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and ECHO Program

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.

The ECHO Program is a collaborative research initiative led by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority with the input and advice of government agencies, marine transportation industry, Indigenous 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.

About the Pacific Pilotage Authority

The principal mandate of the Authority is to provide safe, reliable and efficient marine pilotage and related services in the coastal waters of British Columbia including the Fraser River.

About the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia

Since 1923, the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia has been the representative voice of the marine industry on Canada’s west coast. The importance of that voice is arguably more important today than ever before as North America’s trade with Asia undergoes unrelenting growth and Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway plays a vital role in facilitating trade efficiency for the benefit of the entire nation.  The Chamber takes considerable pride in harnessing constructive relationships with legislators at all levels and in facilitating solutions focused meetings between members and other influential marine partners and stakeholders.

About the Shipping Federation of Canada

The Shipping Federation of Canada, incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1903, is the association that represents and promotes the interests of the owners, operators and agents of ships involved in Canada’s world trade. The Federation’s member companies are involved in all sectors of the shipping industry, including dry bulk, liquid bulk, container and cruise.

The Federation’s key activities are to provide advocacy for the ocean shipping industry; offer operational support to its membership; disseminate information to members, governments and the general public; and provide training to members and other industry stakeholders. The Federation’s overall objective is to work towards a safe, efficient, competitive, environmentally sustainable and quality-oriented marine transportation system.

About Cruise Lines International Association

Established in 1975, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, providing a unified voice and leading authority of the global cruise community. CLIA supports policies and practices that foster a safe, secure, healthy and sustainable cruise ship environment and is dedicated to promoting the cruise travel experience.

About The Council of Marine Carriers

The mandate of the Council of Marine Carriers is to further the interests and to conserve the rights of members of the Council and to promote their general welfare. The Council’s role is to formulate and advocate policies, legislation and regulations that are beneficial to the tug and barge industry. The Council of Marine Carriers represents the membership in all matters before the appropriate governmental and industrial agencies.

About the International Ship Owners Alliance of Canada

The International Ship-Owners Alliance of Canada (ISAC)’s mandate is to monitor relevant marine policy and legislative developments and represent its members before the federal and provincial governments as well as other national/international organizations and regulatory authorities.  ISAC’s members are ship-owning companies owning and operating bulk carriers, container ships, oil, gas, product and chemical carriers as well as tug boats and passenger ferries.

Media contact:

Rachel Wong
Communications Advisor, Environmental Programs
604-665-9539
[email protected]

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