Salt Spring: New Momentum for Marine Ecosystems

Salt Spring: New Momentum for Marine Ecosystems

In this Newsletter:

Marine Conservation with Transition Salt Spring
Oil Tanker Spotted in Risky Active Pass
Partial Success with Freighter Problem

Marine Conservation with Transition Salt Spring

June 8 is World Oceans Day!

Transition Salt Spring (TSS) is a community-led response to global climate change. Together we are planning events later this year introducing the amazing biodiversity of our local marine ecosystems, understanding some threats and what we can do as a community, and how we can prepare for participation in the planned National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) that Salt Spring Island will be part of.

Please reply to this email if you are interested in joining the new momentum for marine ecosystems and wish to help in a team with the preparation of community events, or participate in developing initiatives (and  engaging with government and other organizations).
Full Image

Oil Tanker Spotted in Risky Active Pass

According to The Tyee, an oil tanker used Active Pass, and apparently because of time limitations, the assigned pilot decided to take this shortcut from the regular route.

The government now changed its policies in response to this incident - but risks of shipping accidents remain a concern in our islands.

Large freighters anchoring in the Gulf Islands can carry over a million gallons of fuel. Freighters started using similarly small passages in other parts of the Gulf Islands on a regular basis.

Human error can never be avoided entirely. Are such risks involving fuel spills acceptable in the Southern Gulf Islands?

See Also: Freighter Anchorages - Accidents

Progress with Freighter Problem

Thank you for your support with letters and signing a petition to create an anchorage-free area in the Southern Gulf Islands. As expected, Transport Canada refused an immediate ban of these freighter anchorages, because they currently do not have a remedy for the efficiency problems and unnecessary ship congestion caused by the Port of Vancouver.

There has been a positive shift in their reply, however. For the first time, Transport Canada acknowledged impacts on communities and endangered species, and announced efforts to reduce anchorage demand. No details have been given.

After record freighter numbers in 2020, the situation has improved this spring. Although grain exports have been up by about 20%, ships are spending less time for each port visit, and fewer anchoring freighters have been coming to our area.

We are in process of finding out what is causing the improvement, but it appears that the newly opened G3 grain terminal may be able to absorb much higher export volumes with more efficiency.

This latest development proves that a persistent government argument is wrong - higher exports do not necessarily require more anchorages. Efficiency can be improved in many ways, for example with better infrastructure or better ship scheduling to avoid a marine traffic chaos and unnecessary emissions and pollution.

While this is good news, it has to be kept in mind that the current situation could be very fragile. A recent study concluded that a key factor is the number of arriving vessels that may be forming a lineup. If more ships arrive than can be processed, the situation can rapidly snowball into a traffic chaos. This is because arriving ships don't only require their own time of loading, but also the entire loading time of all ships waiting ahead in the lineup.

Unless ship arrivals are buffered with modern information sharing, any unforeseen delays in the supply chain can quickly spiral out of control and dozens of ships will pile up waiting outside of port. A Vessel Arrival System (VAS) is needed so that incoming vessels can slow down, save fuel, and arrive just in time. Also, an 'early warning system' needs to alert exporters of growing lineups so that future orders can be adjusted to a more accurate time of vessel arrival without a need for wasted time and emissions while waiting in lineups.

Hopefully, these efforts will continue and make anchorages in the Southern Gulf Islands redundant. Continued public pressure is necessary to hold government and industry accountable to their commitment of responsible and sustainable shipping.

With sufficient public support, an anchorage-free National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) can become a reality, for the benefit of preserving our sensitive marine ecosystems for generations to enjoy. 

How to Participate

Please reply to this email if you are able to join the new momentum for marine ecosystems and you are interested in helping in a team working on:

* Preparation of community events, or
* Participate in developing initiatives and engaging with government and other organizations.

Dates for events will be announced later this year.
Thank you for support to keep the Gulf Islands protected and free from heavily industrialized use!