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Chamber of Shipping statement on the petition for an emergency protection order for Orca whale recovery

By BCShippingNews 06 February 2018
Chamber of Shipping
Chamber calls for measured, responsible approach...

The Chamber of Shipping reiterates its commitment to the protection of the Southern Resident Killer Whale and other threatened and endangered species. This commitment includes ongoing and substantive actions to mitigate the effects of vessel-generated noise and physical disturbance, many of which are developed through multi-stakeholder efforts such as the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation program spear-headed by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

A coalition of non-governmental organizations has recently petitioned the Government of Canada to implement an Emergency Protection Order under the Species at Risk Act, including recommendations related to commercial shipping. While our sector is supportive of action to address all anthropogenic threats, such action must be considered with a complete understanding and appreciation of the complexity of operating large commercial vessels safely, all while avoiding unintended safety, operational, or ecological consequences.

Commercial shipping recently completed a two month Slow-Down Trial in the Salish Sea designed to measure the potential reduction in acoustic disturbance and to better understand safety and operational impacts. While preliminary results from the trial have indicated a positive correlation between speed reduction and sound levels, there remains a vast amount of data to be analyzed and additional consideration of key safety and operational outcomes.

The Chamber of Shipping urges a measured, responsible approach and strongly believes that this foundational analysis must continue in order to develop the most appropriate and safest mitigation measures for international and domestic shipping. As recently as July 2017, a DFO Science-Based Review of Mitigation Measures for commercial shipping was proposing certain actions that would negatively impact safety of shipping in the Salish Sea. We expressed concerns and recommended a path forward to the Government of Canada, which included an in-depth review of safety factors of all proposed mitigation measures. We are encouraged that this review has recently begun and we strongly urge the Government of Canada to put the appropriate resources towards the critical analysis of operational and commercial factors that we proposed in October 2017.

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.