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 five different ship classification societies (the non-governmental organizations that establish and maintain technical standards for the construction and operation of ships) and five propeller technologies, all of which can help reduce underwater noise emissions. Ships that have one or more of these quiet ship notations 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.”
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