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International shipping supports science to recover resident Orcas

Two-month trial on vessel transit speeds starts on August 7...

The recovery of the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale is a top priority for the members of the Chamber of Shipping. Existing science indicates that the species faces three anthropogenic threats, including contaminated water, a lack of prey, and physical and acoustic disturbance. Research suggests that underwater noise from vessels can interfere with killer whale communications, constraining the ability to hunt and navigate. It also suggests that vessels operating at lower speeds typically generate less underwater noise.

Our member companies representing international cruise lines, container, tankers, auto, bulk and breakbulk carriers have indicated their full support for the two-month trial to reduce vessel transit speeds through Haro Strait to 11 knots from August 6th. Haro Strait is a prime feeding area for the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale and also serves as the marine corridor for vessels calling western Canadian ports in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, with an average of 7-8 inbound and outbound transits per day.

“The path to this trial has been years in the making and is the result of progressive leadership and collaboration inherent in the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s ECHO Program,” said Chamber of Shipping President Robert Lewis-Manning. “Our member companies are serious about supporting solutions that are based in science and this commitment is indicative of new and innovative approaches by a network of First Nations, scientists, researchers, regulators, NGOs, and industry.”

Throughout the trial, researchers will measure the change in underwater noise from the speed reduction in Haro Strait. Additionally, the commercial marine industry will collect data to determine the impact of the slow-down as it relates to safety, supply chain efficiency, and commercial operations. The results of the trial will not only determine if a speed reduction could have a positive impact for this iconic whale species, but will also inform the Government of Canada of other necessary and complementary regulatory and operational measures that would ensure the safety and competitiveness of marine transportation during the recovery of the species. The Chamber of Shipping will look forward to remaining an engaged and vocal participant in this ongoing dialogue.

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