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Commercial shipping in B.C. reduces speed to protect endangered whales

By BCShippingNews 13 July 2018
Chamber of shipping
Voluntary slow-down for large commercial ships initiated...

The commercial marine transportation industry has initiated a voluntary slow-down for large commercial ships transiting Haro Strait in the Salish Sea as endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) have recently returned to the area.

The key threats to the SRKW are prey availability, physical and acoustic disturbances, and environmental contaminants. In 2017, a voluntary vessel slowdown trial in Haro Strait demonstrated that reducing vessel speed is an effective way of reducing the underwater noise generated at the vessel source, as well as reducing total underwater noise in nearby habitats which may in turn benefit the behaviour and feeding success of the SRKW. Large commercial ships represent approximately 50 per cent of the total sound energy in local waters.

“The implementation of this complex slow-down of vessels by global shipping companies is indicative of the tremendous understanding and commitment to protecting endangered whales in Canada,” stated the Chamber’s President Robert Lewis-Manning. “The expertise of many partners, including First Nations, the Federal Government, scientists, and non-governmental organizations continues to support innovation in developing pragmatic and effective measures.”

The marine shipping industry and its partners have already developed a suite of innovative protective measures that are based on science and which will continue to support an overall recovery strategy. This level of complex planning in both Canada and the United States to implement measures would not have been possible without the leadership of the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) program initiative spear-headed by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

Commercial shipping results in $30 billion of economic activity annually in Canada and, at 1.8% of the Canadian economy, ships move more than $200 billion worth of goods to and from global markets. From farmers to retailers, many Canadian jobs depend on a healthy and thriving trade environment supported by a robust and fluid marine transportation network, committed to environmental protection and stewardship.