Freighter Anchorages

You’ve all seen them: freighters that turn our beautiful waters into an overflow industrial parking lot.

These ships present a serious environmental risk to this critical ecosystem, and it has to stop.

There are over thirty spots for ships to anchor over the long term around the Gulf Islands, including six each at Cowichan Bay and in the vicinity of the Saltair and Ladysmith harbours. These waters have long been recognized as being among the most ecologically diverse and sensitive marine habitats in Canada.

  • Due to extreme weather conditions (which will only get worse thanks to rising climate change), ship anchors often drag across the sensitive sea floor habitat. The large, heavy, metallic anchors, chains, and cables can cause irreparable harm to sensitive marine flora and fauna.
  • Damaging the seabed increases the level of sediment in the water, which seriously impacts many endangered Gulf Island species.
  • Dumping ballast water can introduce invasive species and pathogens, as well as a slew of chemical compounds into our waters.
  • Noise disturbance from anchored freighters increases mortality rates for endangered species such as the Southern Resident Killer Whale.
  • While at anchor, industrial freighters emit several different environmental contaminants: greenhouse gases, excess light and noise pollution, fuel spillage, and paint and rust contaminants.

Anchorages in the Gulf Islands also violate the sovereignty of local Indigenous Nations, who do not and have never consented to the use of their territorial waters for ship anchorages

Don’t they need to park here?

No. Excessive anchoring is the result of a lack of regulation and the mismanagement of our supply chain at the Port of Vancouver, which causes major delays and increases the demand for anchorages and the length of stay. Technological improvements could allow the Port of Vancouver and Transport Canada to better coordinate ships’ arrival times for greater efficiency to load their cargo. This has the potential to cut shipping emissions and make movement of vessels through the port more seamless, reducing and hopefully eliminating theneed for use of long-term anchorages around our precious coastal waters.

The federal government must act to protect our coastal waters.

Instead of proactively managing our supply chain and providing appropriate regulation of industrial freighter traffic, the federal government allows shipping companies almost free reign. A recent report by Stand.Earth and West Coast Environmental Law estimates that 31 billion litres of wastewater are dumped into Coastal BC waters each and every year. The federal government must catch up to our USA neighbours by forcing shipping companies to clean up their act; it’s long past time as a country we caught up with our neighbours and allies by properly regulating the freight shipping and cruise industry.

We can start by protecting some of the most important habitat for sea life in the whole region by establishing a National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) across the Gulf Islands.

This critical effort would safeguard our waters for generations to come, giving safe haven to species of marine life big and small. In doing so, we’re also protecting our local economy - by protecting salmon, crab, oyster and spot prawn harvests, alongside other seafood harvesting, as well as some of the most beautiful sites for recreation and eco-tourism in the world.

For these reasons, I’ve introduced Bill C-305 to prohibit these anchorages from being used in the same waters that are being considered for a National Marine Conservation Area. I hope you’ll join me in calling
on the Government of Canada to support this legislation to put this harmful practice to an end.

Are you ready to take action?

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