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May 30, 2018

Vancouver program studying how vessel speed affects whales gets award

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority-led Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program received top honour in the environment category at this year's Lloyd's List Americas Awards gala. The award recognizes the institution, company or individual that has done the most to reduce the pollution of the marine environment in the Americas from maritime sources.

"We are extremely proud to receive the Lloyd's List Environment Award for the important work being done through the ECHO Program to support the recovery of southern resident killer whales," said Duncan Wilson, vice president corporate social responsibility at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. "We'd like to thank our industry, government, academic, First Nation, conservation and environmental group partners who have worked with us to deliver this world-leading environmental program"

Last summer, the ECHO Program initiated a first-of-its-kind vessel slowdown trial to study the relationship between slower vessel speed and underwater noise and the resultant effect on the southern resident killer whales.

During the trial period, commercial vessels transiting a corridor of about 16 nautical miles were asked to navigate over listening stations (hydrophones) and reduce their speed to 11 knots, where it was feasible and safe to do so. More than 60 marine industry organizations voluntarily took part in the trial, which allowed for enough data to be collected and to support rigourous analysis and sound scientific conclusions on the effectiveness of the trial.

The ECHO Program continues to work towards finalizing the results of the trial, including modelling the behavior of southern resident killer whales as a result of decreased vessel noise. When the analysis is complete, the program will work with its advisors and partners to determine potential next steps to this complex, cumulative environmental management issue.

Source: Vancouver Fraser Port Authority