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New Mariner’s Guide Aims to Reduce Threats to Species at Risk

EFFECTIVE WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2017

Vancouver, British Columbia – Ship strikes, vessel disturbance, and underwater noise are key threats faced by whales, dolphins and porpoises off British Columbia’s coast. A new guide for mariners — produced bythe Vancouver Aquarium’s Coastal Ocean Research Institute in partnership with the Vancouver FraserPort Authority and the Prince Rupert Port Authority — is intended to inform mariners about the risk ofcollisions between vessels and marine life, and to help minimize vessel disturbances.

On the B.C. coast, cetacean-vessel collisions may involve many species, including fin whales, humpbackwhales, killer whales and grey whales. The purpose of the Mariner’s Guide to Whales, Dolphins andPorpoises of Western Canada is to raise awareness among large vessel mariners and provide informationthat will help mitigate vessel impacts on cetaceans along the B.C. coast including strikes, disturbance,noise, and air pollution.

Data collected by the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network, supplemented by data sets from Fisheries andOceans Canada and Pacific Northwest LNG, have been used to create maps that give a sense of highdensity areas for various species of cetaceans found off the coast of B.C., and where encounters arelikely to occur. The guide will also help vessel crew members identify key cetacean and sea turtlespecies, understand the threats their vessels pose, and take action to minimize those threats.

“We are so fortunate in British Columbia; our coastal ecosystem is home to an incredible array ofwhales, dolphins and porpoises,” said Caitlin Birdsall, marine mammal researcher with the Institute. “It’salso host to increasing marine traffic and this is a terrific example of agencies working together toaddress common threats to at-risk wildlife.”

The guide was developed with input from ports and other partners from the marine transportationindustry. Along with the ports of Prince Rupert and Vancouver, contributors included Department ofFisheries and Oceans, B.C. Ferries, B.C. Chamber of Shipping, Shipping Federation of Canada, PacificPilotage Authority, B.C. Coast Pilots, ROMM (Réseau D’Observation De Mammifères Marins) and CruiseLines International Association.

“We are very proud of the collaborative efforts that have led to the development of this guide. We alsobelieve that the guide aligns well with the government’s recently announced Oceans Protection Plan, asit relates to preserving and restoring Canada’s marine ecosystems,” said Duncan Wilson, vice president,Corporate Social Responsibility at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. 

“The creation of the Mariner’s Guide is another vital component of our comprehensive approach tosustainability,” said Jason Scherr, manager of Environmental Sustainability for the Port of Prince Rupert."The health of the ocean is integral to our success as a gateway for maritime trade. Close teamwork bypartners that share this perspective helped make this project a success, and lays the foundation forfuture, similarly positive, initiatives.

”The guide has been distributed to commercial vessel captains, coastal pilots, B.C. Ferries and otherprofessional mariners. An electronic version is available online at:www.wildwhales.org/conservation/marinersguide/

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B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network
A research and conservation program of the Vancouver Aquarium, in collaboration with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the goal of the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network is to increase public awareness of British Columbia’s whales, dolphins, porpoises and sea turtles, and the threats to their survival, through outreach and opportunistic data collection. Sightings can be reported at wildwhales.org; by calling tollfree: 1.866.I.SAW.ONE; by e-mailing sightings@vanaqua.org; or using the smartphone app, WhaleReport. 

Coastal Ocean Research Institute 
Established to measure and monitor the health of coastal ecosystems, the Coastal Ocean Research Institute produces and communicates scientific knowledge and understanding about Canada’s West Coast. Established by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, the Research Institute is grateful for its generous founding partners the Sitka Foundation and North Growth Foundation.

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre
The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is a non-profit society dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life. www.vanaqua.org.

Port of Prince Rupert
The Port of Prince Rupert is Canada's northernmost trade gateway on the west coast. Prince Rupert anchors one of the fastest and most reliable supply chains between North America and Asia, providing vital infrastructure to support shippers and industries as they move their goods and resources to market. Its five modern and efficient terminals collectively shipped over 7.3 million tonnes of goods in 2016. With respect to sustainability, the Port of Prince Rupert is guided in all of its activities by the key principles of pollution prevention, preservation of environmental integrity, efficient use of resources, and continuous improvement.
www.rupertport.com

Vancouver Fraser Port Authority
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is responsible for the stewardship of the federal port lands in and around Vancouver, British Columbia. It is accountable to the federal minister of transport and operates pursuant to the Canada Marine Act. The port authority manages the Port of Vancouver, which is Canada’s largest port and the third largest tonnage port in North America, responsible for Canada’s trade with more than 170 world economies. Located in a naturally beautiful setting on Canada’s west coast, the Port of Vancouver is responsible for the efficient and reliable movement of goods and passengers, and integrates environmental, social and economic sustainability initiatives into all areas of port operations. Enabling the trade of approximately $200 billion in goods in 2015, the port sustains an estimated 100,000 supply-chain jobs, $6.1 billion in wages, and $9.7 billion in GDP across Canada.
www.portvancouver.com