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Unique agreement in Canada to protect killer whales


2019-05-13


VANCOUVER - As Canada continues to increase its focus towards sustainable trade growth, nine key groups have come together in support of conservation on the nation's west coast. The first of its kind in Canada,  the Conservation Agreement, announced by the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast supports the continuation of the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation Program (ECHO), a Port of Vancouver-led initiative aimed at better understanding and mitigating the impact of shipping activities on the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) in the Salish Sea.

Commercial shipping accounts for nearly 50% of the acoustic noise in the Salish Sea. The Conservation Agreement encourages large commercial vessels to slow down in key foraging areas for the SRKW to reduce underwater noise that may disrupt their ability to find prey. The agreement also pledges ongoing support to the ECHO program from the signatories, and details joint efforts to grow international engagement and collaboration while also collecting and sharing data and research between key groups.

The coalition brings together the Department of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, Transport Canada, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA), Pacific Pilotage Authority (PPA), and the commercial marine sector.

"We appreciate the Government of Canada's continued support in implementing effective, protective, and flexible measures that respect the inherent challenges of safe and responsible trade," said Robert Lewis-Manning, President of the Chamber of Shipping. "This significant commitment by ship operators comes at a period of unprecedented trade volatility, and at a time when ship operators are implementing costly technical changes to their practices and fleets as they prepare to transition to low-sulphur fuel in 2020, in addition to installing ballast water treatment systems to stop the spread of invasive species. With the support of the Government, our industry has banded together to commit to tackling problems efficiently, effectively, and transparently".

The agreement extends the voluntary measures designed to reduce the impact of large commercial vessels and hopes to attain an 80% participation rate. Since the Salish Sea is bi-national waters, shared between Canada and the USA, these voluntary measures can establish effective measures and guidelines in a way that traditional regulation cannot, as it would be outside the Government of Canada's jurisdiction. (Photo VFPA)

 
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