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New Swiftsure Bank voluntary slowdown began August 1

August 11, 2020

Led by the Port of Vancouver, the ECHO Program’s new voluntary ship slowdown trial for outbound ships at Swiftsure Bank started August 1 and will continue through October 31, 2020. Southern resident killer whales have been observed at Swiftsure Bank throughout the year, but in greater numbers during the summer months.

Large commercial ships transiting outbound through Swiftsure Bank are asked to voluntarily slow down as follows:

  • Vehicle carriers, cruise ships and container vessels: 14.5 knots or less through the water.
  • Bulk carriers, tankers and government vessels: 11.5 knots or less through the water.

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority-led Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program has undertaken numerous collaborative research initiatives since 2014 to better understand and manage the cumulative effects of shipping activities on whales off the southwest coast of Vancouver Island – particularly the southern resident killer whales.

Since 2017 and 2018, two other regions are targeted for voluntary slowdown and lateral displacement in the Haro Strait and Boundary Pass, and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This year, the measures began respectively on July 1 and June 1 for these areas and they are proven very successful. The voluntary slowdown in Haro Strait and Boundary Pass hit 95% participation in its fifth week, bringing the overall cumulative participation rate to 91%t. For weeks 7 and 8 of the inshore lateral displacement in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, 88% of tugboats participated by spending more than half of their time in either the inshore lateral displacement zone or the outbound shipping lane. The cumulative participation rate since the lateral displacement began on June 1 is currently at 74%.