The following summarizes the voluntary and mandatory measures on the West Coast to protect southern resident killer whales (SRKW). These measures are essentially the UNCHANGED FROM 2022. This information is also available on the Federation’s website under Members Area/ Environment/ Speed Restrictions.
OVERVIEW MAP OF MANAGEMENT MEASURES FOR SRKW 2023: (VOLUNTARY AND MANDATORY, CLICK FOR LARGER VERSION)
VOLUNTARY MEASURES – ECHO PROGRAM:
- The 2023 voluntary vessel slowdown at Swiftsure Bank will begin on June 1.
- The slowdown at Haro Strait and Boundary Pass could also begin as early as June 1, depending on SRKW presence. We will send a CL notifying members when the slowdown in these areas begins.
SWIFTSURE BANK ZONE (17 TO 20 NM):
- Voluntary slowdown from June 1 to October 31 (inbound and outbound).
- 11.0 knots for bulk and tanker vessels.
- 14.5 knots for container vessels and vehicle carriers. For 2023, these types of ships are encouraged to further reduce their speeds when it is safe to do so, in order to maximize underwater noise reduction.
- Learn more about the Swiftsure Bank slowdown trial here or by clicking on the map below.
HARO STRAIT AND BOUNDARY PASS (29.6NM):
- The slowdown could begin as early as June 1, and will remain active until November 30, unless southern resident killer whales are absent in the area for more than two weeks.
- 11.0 knots speed through water for bulk and tanker vessels.
- 14.5 knots speed through water for container vessels and vehicle carriers.
- Any additional pilotage costs incurred as a result of participating will be again reimbursed by Transport Canada. Similar to last year, the reimbursement payments will be made directly to the Pacific Pilotage Authority.
- Learn more about the Haro Strait and Boundary Pass slowdown here or by clicking on the map below.
Participation Goals and Noise Reduction:
The goal for 2023 is to attain a participation rate of at least 90% of all vessels transiting Haro Strait and Boundary Pass, which are key foraging areas for SRKWs, and 80% at Swiftsure, which recent rsearch shows is also an important area for these whalles.
Last year, thanks to the participation of the shipping industry, these participation goals were met, and underwater sound intensity was reduced by approximately 50% during the ECHO Program’s voluntary slowdown initiatives. We thank members for their continuing commitments to the protection and recovery of these whales.
Pilotage Cost Reimbursement:
In 2023, extra pilotage costs that are incurred for transits participating in the voluntary slowdown trial will again be reimbursed directly from the Port of Vancouver to the Pacific Pilotage Authority. Invoices to participants will again indicate that extra costs are being covered by TC/ VFPA, and you will not have to handle those costs directly.
MANDATORY MEASURES- TRANSPORT CANADA
In addition to the above voluntary measures under the ECHO program, Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have adopted a series of governmental mandatory measures to address other threats to SRKWs (Click for details), including fishing, whale watching and navigation at large (applicable to all types of vessels).
As part of these mandatory governmental measures, the following prohibitions will apply to commercial vessels.
SPEED RESTRICTED ZONES AT SWIFTSURE BANK:
- Two speed restricted zones will be in place from June 1 until November 30, 2023. Both are located outside of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) outside the Stait of Juan the Fuca, in non-piloted waters. Vessels are required to slow down to a maximum of 10 knots while in the areas, with exceptions for safety.
- Although the pilot will assist in reminding master prior to disembarking, the vessel master remains responsible to ensure compliance.
INTERIM SANCTUARY ZONES (EQUIVALENT TO “AREAS TO BE AVOIDED”):
The Canadian government has established two Interim Sanctuary Zones which are considered refuges for whales. These locations are unchanged from previous years.
IMPORTANT: No vessel traffic is allowed in these zones between June 1 and November 30- with limited exceptions, including for safety of navigation and search and rescue. Transport Canada will be notifying vessels in the area of these requirements directly via NAVWARN. Vessels found in non-compliance with the requirements for the Interim Sanctuary Zones are subject to fines as described in Circular Letter 11104.
OFF THE SOUTHWEST COAST OF PENDER ISLAND:
- Although in piloted waters, the vessel remains responsible to ensure compliance; The Interim Sanctuary Zone should be discussed with the pilot as part of passage plans.
OFF SOUTHEAST END OF SATURNA ISLAND:
- Although in piloted waters, the vessel remains responsible to ensure compliance; The Interim Sanctuary Zone should be discussed with the pilot as part of passage plans
Please contact the undersigned with any questions.
Manager, Environmental and Regulatory Affairs