Underwater sound intensity reduced by nearly 50%

Aug 30, 20210 comments

Since G2 Ocean joined the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority-led ECHO Program in 2017, the underwater sound intensity for killer whales in and around Vancouver, British Columbia, has been reduced by nearly 50 per cent.

In 2017, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority launched the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) program to protect the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales in and around Vancouver, British Columbia, from underwater noise.

Since then, more than 80 shipping organisations, including G2 Ocean, have participated in the program by either slowing down the speed of the vessel or staying distanced within key killer whales’ habitats throughout the Salish sea.

When safe and operationally feasible to do so, operators of vehicle carrier ships, passenger ships and container ships are encouraged to reduce speed to 14.5 knots or less. Bulk cargo vessels, tankers and government vessel operators are asked to sail at 11.5 knots or less.

50% reduction

According to a recent press release distributed by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the efforts have yielded results: In nearly five years, the underwater sound intensity has been reduced by almost 50% during the slowdowns and by up to 70% during measures to stay distant.

“We are incredibly proud of what the ECHO Program has achieved over the last five years towards supporting the recovery of one of B.C.’s most iconic species,” said Duncan Wilson, vice president, environment, community and government affairs at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. 

The continued strong participation of the marine transportation industry in the ECHO Program is a testament to the effectiveness of voluntary efforts at driving meaningful change towards quieter oceans.

Duncan Wilson

Vice president, environment, community and government affairs, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

Important species

Underwater noise from ships can interfere with killer whales’ ability to hunt, navigate, and communicate.

“Whales have an important role in the overall health of the marine environment, and it is our responsibility to ensure that they are protected for future generations,” Managing Director Operations Phil Curran at G2 Ocean says.

“We are pleased to hear that our voluntary speed reduction measures are effective, and we look forward to continuing to collaborating with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to manage threats to at-risk whales in the future,” Phil concludes.