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23-October 2023:  
Bruce McConchie, Spokesperson of the South Coast Ship Watch Alliance, speaks at the Transport Committee in Ottawa

Hearing on Bill C-33, 44th Parliament, 1st Session:
Text, Video

 We are concerned that the consequence of the word “anchorage” in proposed paragraph (f.2) of Bill C-33 would be to allow the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, an industrial entity, to implement its plan to expand its jurisdictional boundaries to include cargo ship anchorages within the southern Gulf Islands and the adjacent Vancouver Island waters. This should not happen.

These anchorages are unnecessary. If the port of Vancouver implemented a modern vessel arrival system and restricted early arrivals, as is done in ports elsewhere; if the Minister of Transport would demand the port require all-weather grain loading—currently, grain cannot be loaded in the rain in Vancouver; if the federal government would suspend shipping of thermal coal, a major contributor to climate change; and if the supply chain to the port was optimized and the many inefficiencies addressed, we would see an end to this attack on the fragile ecosystems of our Salish Sea.

Our ultimate goal is the elimination of the anchorages because they are unnecessary and language to that effect to give the Minister of Transport the authority to declare the southern Gulf Islands waters and adjacent Vancouver Island waters a special sanctuary zone.

August 2022:  New Reports on Ship Pollution in Canada

WWF-Canada’s National Vessel Dumping Assessment found that ships produce, and potentially dump, 147 billion litres of harmful waste each year while in Canadian waters.  Bulk carriers are among the top polluters.

See also the Report by West Coast Enviromental Law - Pollution in Paradise: Dumping By Ships In Canada's Marine Protected Areas.

New Port Traffic Plans:

Elimination, not Mitigation of Island Anchorages

Your voice needed: Please see more information and how to join the letter campaign of our umbrella organization South Coast Ship Watch Alliance (SCSWA). We are hard at work together with other islands and coastal communities.

We also sent a response to the Port of Vancouver regarding their new Active Vessel Traffic Management program plans, as a group effort by our Alliance.

News on Record Freighter Numbers and New Risks with Container Ships.  Right in front of Ganges, a coal freighter stayed for 42 days and the first container ship started anchoring.

New Fact Sheet: How anchorages impact Health & Environment

New White Paper: How this anchorage problem can be solved.

Container Ships, Anchorage Safety, and COP26

Recent Container Ship Accident: How Safe Are Anchorages?

Supply Chain Problems with Containers: Expect More Ships at Anchor?

COP26: Resolving Anchorage Problem Will Help Canada's Emission Targets

Read more about these topics here

8-June 2021:  World Oceans Day  

Oil Tanker Spotted in Risky Active Pass: According to The Tyee, an oil tanker used Active Pass. Apparently because of time limitations, the assigned pilot decided to take this risky shortcut from the regular route.

Read More, also on Salt Spring's New Momentum for Marine Ecosystems

22-February-2021:  Public Input Needed, New Studies

Public Input:  The provincial Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) released their report with proposed conditions for the TMX pipeline, Petition to eliminate freighter anchorages.

New Studies and Reports:  
Waterbird decline in the Salish Sea - Benthivores foraging at the seabottom at anchoring depth are most affected.  

New study confirms that noise pollution harms many forms of marine life, not just whales.

Transport Safety Board releases report about freighter collision in the Gulf Islands.

See full text of Newsletter here

14-December 2020:  
New Initiatives and Outlook

Increased Momentum:  Several initiatives have been launched by our MPs in parliament in order to solve the problem of freighter anchorages in the Gulf Islands. Public opposition has reached a critical momentum not seen before. Thank you for your support!

Nevertheless, 2020 has brought the highest freighter activity into our islands ever seen. For example since the beginning of October just outside Ganges, we had on average only 4 freighter free days before the next ship anchored again.

2021 is expected to be a critical year for possible solutions. We will inform you and will need your support for upcoming campaigns.

More information on Bill C-250 (Ban of Anchorages in Gulf Islands) by MP Alistair McGregor, Call for Port of Vancouver to reduce anchorage demand & Bill C-261 (Ban of Thermal Coal Exports) by MP Paul Manly see here.

18-October-2020:  BC NDP will address Freighter Anchorages if re-elected

BC Election Issue:  We were looking for answers in public statements, asked our candidates at the Salt Spring Forum Debate, and emailed questions to all candidates in our electoral district.

See more on the positions of political parties on Freighter Anchorages in the Gulf Islands here

27-Sep 2020:  New Petition in the House of Commons to Eliminate Freighter Anchorages in the Gulf Islands
(Click on image or here to view and sign)

The New Normal?  This year is bringing new challenges with the freighter situation. Ship congestion at the Port of Vancouver has increased to a degree that many anchorages in the Gulf Islands see constant use for much of every month, often with only two weeks or less in between new ship arrivals.

What had once been portrayed as 'overflow' in extreme situations, is now becoming more and more the new norm of how the port simply uses anchorages in the Gulf Islands for normal operations as if the Gulf Islands were an industrial port zone.

The situation has worsened again since mid summer, and there currently is a vessel lineup of almost 40 vessels at port, with only few anchorages left open in the Gulf Islands.

The problem is that new ships are constantly arriving in larger numbers than can be processed at port, without adjustment when lineups are forming. Watch for media reports. In such situations, the industry has usually waited for some unusual event to occur, and then public announcements are made to blame the lack of planning on weather, interrupted railway lines, or strikes.

Instead, the right thing to do would be taking responsibility and put efficient planning into place. Ship congestion can be avoided and does not need to build up for weeks. Alternatives for efficient scheduling exist.

What can we do?

(1) Sign a Petition in the House of Commons for the government to eliminate anchorages in the Gulf Islands and instead put an efficient scheduling system for ship arrivals in place. Any citizen or resident can sign. Names are confidential and not made public.

(2) Send a Complaint about Noise and Light Disturbance to the Port of Vancouver.
The required name of a ship can be looked up at marine traffic websites such as or a local ship monitoring website (Pat Bay Webcam & Weather).

(3) Get friends and neighbours to support the cause
and sign up to our newsletter.

4-June 2020:  New Port System Could Replace Freighter Anchorages

Some people believe that freighters anchored around Salt Spring Island are necessary and good for the economy. The opposite is true. A freighter waiting for loading grain can cost Canadian farmers over $13,000 per day. Time at anchor means wasted time, wasted fuel, and unnecessary emissions.

Too many ships at anchor are a sign that something is not right at port, according to Professor Trevor Heaver of the UBC Sauders School of Business in Vancouver. Lessons can be learnt from other ports that have found solutions to this problem - such as Newcastle in Australia, where a freighter accident inspired improvements in the system (photo).

An article in this week's Driftwood of June 3 explains how sharing of information and a new Vessel Arrival System (VAS) at port could be used for bringing in cargo ships just when needed, and thus reduce the need for wasteful time at anchorage. Read the article here.

The editorial of the Driftwood of June 3, 2020, calls on residents to sign our letter to federal ministers at the website of the No Freighter Anchorages Alliance, and states that unless a serious mass of residents becomes involved and makes it an election issue, the Gulf Islands waters will continue to be used as a holding tank for massive cargo ships.
Read the Editorial: Anchorage use must be addressed.

World Oceans Day, 8-June 2020:  
Virtual Ocean Festival

Where better celebrate World Oceans Day than on an island?

Salt Spring Island may become a magnet of attraction for this newest island tradition, in which we are also participating.

This year a real festival is not possible. The Ocean Defenders are a group of young islanders who are organizing a virtual festival on and around June 8.

Join the event!

New Emissions Report about bulk carriers at anchor submitted to the Salt Spring Island Climate Action Council.

Read Story

End of January and Early February 2020: Record Highs of Anchored Freighters Observed in the Gulf Islands:

Vessel numbers waiting at port have been building up during winter (see graph, numbers are from weekly grain monitoring reports by Quorum Corp).

The root cause appears to be inefficiencies in synchronizing the scheduling of commodities and ships. The arrival of ships is poorly coordinated.  We see times when more ships arrive than the port can handle even under normal conditions. Ships keep piling up. The situation is not under control and needs to be fixed.

Rainy weather conditions in January made loading more difficult, adding to the problem. There is missing flexibility in delaying the ETA of incoming ships.

Were record highs caused by train and port blockades of protests against the LNG-pipeline through Wet'suwet'en territory? No, the congestion and record highs of waiting ships ocurred before the protests, and before potential effects of the corona virus.

Are blockades a concern for ship congestions at port? Depending on the extent and length of blockades, there is a possibility that interruptions in the supply chain could add to longer waiting times of ships at anchor. It also depends whether the industry is able to adjust traffic in response to congestions, or if ships simply keep arriving at a normal rate.  

New Video: Trouble in the Salish Sea

Local First Nations and coastal community groups are demanding Transport Canada, Environment Canada, and DFO (Dept of Fisheries and Oceans) put an end to this harmful spillover of commercial activity from the Port of Vancouver.

We have joined forces and become a member of the 'South Coast Ship Watch Alliance', a coalition of community groups in the Southern Gulf Islands and adjacent Vancouver Island opposing anchorages for large sea-going vessels.


Watch the 3 minute video and join other Salt Spring Islanders supporting the coalition's ongoing campaign

24-July-2019: Freighters bound for US destinations anchor at Salt Spring Island.  

Large seagoing vessels bound for the United States have discovered a loop hole in the inefficiencies at Port Vancouver. They are now using free parking in Canadian waters for maintenance and other tasks.

The heavy load carrier 'Combi Dock I' had anchored just off Ganges Harbour and angered many residents with excessive noise of testing their cranes and equipment in the first half of July. The vessel was now spotted at Anacortes, WA.

These developments raise serious concerns. Inefficiencies at Port Vancouver and delays in loading grain are not the whole story with the expansion of industrial anchorages into the Gulf Islands.

Please see our page on Port Call Optimization. The Port of Vancouver wants to be the world's greenest port.  There are solutions - but tolerating inefficiencies and sending industrial vessels and their pollution to the protected Gulf Islands is not one of them.

10-June-2019: Parks Canada's public consultation on National Conservation Marine Areas, regarding their proposed changes to the policy and new regulations. 

Most likely, all of Salt Spring Island's surrounding waters will be Zone 4 (Multiple Use).

While the package with pretty pictures and soothing words looks very attractive, the facts are sobering.

Parks Canada is planning to allow the industrialization of this zone. Except for a no to drilling for oil and gas, there would be little or no protection.

The following will still be allowed:
Freighter & Tanker Anchorages, giant Windmills and other Power Plants, Industrialized Aquaculture on shorelines, Commercial and Industrial Fishing with contact to the ocean floor, and more.

Please read our assessment and consider sending a letter to Parks Canada and other officials that industrialization is not compatible with a Marine Conservation Area for our islands.

DFO Consultation on their recovery strategy for the Southern Resident Orca Population:

Members of our group submitted that the noise from anchoring vessels has so far been ignored.  Although of less intensity than the noise from moving ships, this constant chronic noise is likely to contribute to stress and reduced health.

Anchorages in Captain's Passage (Salt Spring Island) and Plumper Sound (Mayne/Pender/Saturna) are in or at the edge of the mapped 'critical habitat' for Orcas, and therefore these anchorages should be eliminated. 


If you would like to become involved, feel free to get in touch. 

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