What if we could protect whales from shipping activities?

Ocean Networks Canada Innovation Centre - ONC Innovation Centre (CECR)

Photo credit: Joan Lopez

The challenge: Whales, dolphins and porpoises off British Columbia’s coast face many threats, including underwater noise from vessels. The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) facilitates Canada’s trade in a way that ensures safe movement of goods, protection of the environment and consideration of local communities. Through its Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program, the VFPA is working with the marine transportation industry, government agencies, First Nations individuals, conservation and environmental groups, and scientists to find ways to mitigate the impacts of shipping activities on at-risk whales.

The response: With funding from the ECHO Program and Transport Canada, the University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada and JASCO Applied Sciences have installed an underwater listening system (ULS) on ONC’s research platform in the Strait of Georgia. The ULS is part of the Smart Ocean SystemsTM portfolio of technologies being commercialized by the ONC Innovation Centre. Combined with ONC’s Oceans 2.0 data management platform, the ULS is helping the ECHO Program better understand the noise levels of incoming ships. The data will help inform potential vessel noise reduction solutions and may support the development of additional underwater noise criteria for VFPA’s EcoAction incentive program, which provides harbour due rate discounts for quieter ships.

ONC’s seafloor infrastructure combined with JASCO Applied Systems’ underwater listening system is generating critical data that will help inform vessel noise reduction solutions for vessels calling the Port of Vancouver, and other ports around the world. Orla Robinson, Program Manager, Enhanced Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority