Freighter Anchorages: Public Input Needed, New Studies

Freighter Anchorages: Public Input Needed, New Studies

Public input needed

The provincial Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) released their report with proposed conditions for the TMX pipeline expansion for public feedback. You can respond with your own feedback to Environment Minister Heyman using the email (before March 1st)

From a freighter perspective we suggest the following conditions:
(a) Tankers need to go to berth directly without using anchorages;
(b) Additional tanker traffic should be offset by eliminating Gulf Island anchorages, which cause unnecessary freighter traffic through Haro Strait and critical killer whale habitat;

You can also sign a new Petition in the House of Commons for the government to eliminate freighter anchorages in the Gulf Islands, to complete an effective National Marine Conservation Area, and to respect First Nations Rights recently expressed in a letter signed by several chiefs.
Any citizen or resident can sign. Names are confidential and not made public.

Water Bird Decline in the Salish Sea

According to Birds Canada, 20 years of BC Coastal Waterbird Surveys show a new problem in the Salish Sea. First it was mainly fish-eating waterbirds that went into decline. Now it is benthivores that are declining most. These birds forage on the shallow bottom of the sea. Only about 5% of BC's ocean area is less than 50m deep, and this is also the most diverse and productive marine ecosystem where commercial anchorages are expanding. See: Article, Original Study

Noise Pollution Is Harming All Marine Life

A new research paper in Science Magazine reviewed the evidence in over 500 studies and came to the conclusion that noise pollution is harmful to a wide variety of marine organisms, ranging from plankton to whales.

A recent CBC article reports an interview with University of Victoria professor Francis Juanes, one of the co-authors, who is doing research on noise pollution on fish species. Sound travels faster and farther in water than in air. Did you know that many fish species depend on sound for communication for example for courtship or territorial defence and can be critically disturbed by noise pollution?

Herring and Rockfish are declining in the Southern Gulf Islands. Harbour Porpoise populations are known to disappear in response to commercial shipping traffic.

Noise pollution by anchored freighters is not compatible with recovery efforts and the planned National Marine Conservation Area.

Transport Safety Board: Report on Freighter Collision in Plumper Sound, March 2020

The safety investigation report found: "Between January 2015 and March 2020, a total of 102 dragging anchor occurrences along the BC coastline were reported to MCTS. When a vessel drags anchor, it can result in a collision, a grounding, or other emergency situations." 

Yet Transport Canada finds this risk entirely acceptable. The recommendation that ship crews need to listen to weather reports is not satisfactory.

The report ignores the ongoing problem of unsuitable anchorage locations that are between islands close to shore and in enclosed bodies of water. Also ignored is the fact that spills would affect many residents, the environment, and the public use of environment and resources, and that policy changes are needed to make traffic management at port more efficient, reduce wasteful time at anchor, and eliminate anchorages in sensitive and risky areas.

Transport Canada is ignoring other national interests and is knowingly accepting environmental risks that would not be seen as acceptable by the public. These anchorages are not compatible with the planned National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA).

See also: CBC article

What can we do?

(1) Contact BC Environment Minister Heyman with your concerns (see top of page).

(2) 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.

(3) 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.

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

Thank you for support to keep the Gulf Islands protected and free from heavily industrialized use!