The 2021 voluntary slowdown in Haro Strait and Boundary Pass has now started – with Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) confirmed in the area yesterday. We are pleased to report a high participation rate so far by our members in the Swiftsure Zone slowdown that began on June 1, 2021. These are key foraging areas for SRKW, and we thank members for their continuing commitment to the protection and recovery of these whales.
The following is a summary of measures for SRKW (as per CL 11282).
VOLUNTARY MEASURES – ECHO PROGRAM:
The 2021 voluntary vessel slowdown in Swiftsure Bank began on June 1. Haro Strait and Boundary Pass are in effect as of July 1, 2021.
SWIFTSURE ZONE (17 TO 20 NM):
Voluntary slowdown from June 1 to October 31; 11.0 knots for bulk and tanker vessels & 14.5 knots for containers, vehicle carriers. Click map below for Swiftsure zone instructions.
HARO STRAIT AND BOUNDARY PASS (29.6NM):
Voluntary slowdown from June 1 to November 30 (dynamic start and end based on whale presence), 11.0 knots for bulk and tanker vessels & 14.5 knots for containers, vehicle carriers and cruise vessels. Click map below for Haro Strait and Boundary Pass instructions.
The goal for the 2021 season is a participation rate of more than 90% of all vessels transiting the areas. Haro Strait and Boundary Pass are key foraging areas for SRKWs, and emerging research shows that Swiftsure Bank is also an important area for these whales.
Last year, thanks to the participation of the shipping industry, underwater sound intensity was reduced by nearly 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:
For this season, extra pilotage costs that are incurred for transits participating in the voluntary slowdown trial will be reimbursed directly from the Port of Vancouver to the Pacific Pilotage Authority. Invoices to participants will indicate that extra costs are being covered by TC/ VFPA, and you will not have to handle those costs directly. Please click HERE for additional information on the pilotage reimbursement program.
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, including fishing, whale watching and navigation at large (applicable to all types of vessels).
As part of these mandatory governmental measures, the following prohibition will apply to commercial vessels. We anticipate these measures to be the same as the past several years and coordinates can be found HERE.
Interim Sanctuary Zones (equivalent to “Areas to be Avoided”):
The Canadian government has established three Interim Sanctuary Zones which are considered refuges for whales.
IMPORTANT: No vessel traffic is allowed in these zones between June 1 and November 30- with some 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
AT SWIFTSURE BANK:
- This Interim Sanctuary Zone is located just outside of the Traffic Separation Scheme outside of the Stait of Juan the Fuca (in non-piloted waters);
Although the pilot will assist in reminding master prior to disembarking, the vessel-master remains responsible to ensure compliance.
Please contact Miako Ushio or Bill McKinstry with any questions.
Environmental and Regulatory Affairs Manager