Our letter to Ms. Yvette Myers, Executive Director, Oceans Protection Plan Implementation
August 9, 2017.
Dear Ms. Myers,
Subject: Anchorages for the South Coast of British Columbia
We are very pleased that the federal government has acknowledged that it is time to review anchorage operations as part of the Oceans Protection Plan. Commercial shipping results in $30 billion of economic activity annually in Canada and, at 1.8% of the Canadian economy, ships move more than $200 billion worth of goods to and from global markets. From farmers to retailers, many Canadian jobs depend on a healthy and thriving trade environment supported by a robust and fluid marine transportation network.
The current framework for anchorage operations for the South Coast of British Columbia is not optimized for efficient commercial operations and results in unnecessary costs, delays, unpredictability, and impacts on certain coastal communities. As trade in this region is expected to increase, the time has arrived to develop a more holistic approach to managing the marine supply chain, which should include anchorage operations and elements of proactive ship management and enhanced situational awareness.
Commercial ships calling on ports in Canada frequently require anchorage in waters in the vicinity of ports, terminals, and waterways. This occurs in most Canadian coastal and inland waterways for a number of reasons. While not an exhaustive list, ships can anchor to await a berth, to clear customs and other flag state administrative procedures, to conduct urgent corrective maintenance, or to await passage through a confined area such as a lock or river - anchorage operations are an integral part of the national supply chain.
The Chamber supports the review and modernization of anchorage operations in BC and suggests that the following objectives be included as part of the review and modernization process:
- Respecting the need to work collaboratively with all levels of governments, First Nations, and coastal communities to improve efficiencies and reduce impacts;
- Developing a regime that manages anchorage areas holistically rather than the current regime that is multi-jurisdictional. As almost all the vessel traffic is destined for terminals in the Port of Vancouver, it makes little sense to have three or more jurisdictions with different and conflicting policies and procedures;
- Ensuring that anchorage operations respect environmental, cultural, and social impacts and are mitigated to the greatest extent possible;
- Developing a monitoring and enforcement regime that is robust and leverages existing and developing technologies, and considers a role for partnerships with First Nations and communities;
- Reviewing the incident/spill response capacity of existing anchorage areas in the South Coast, and developing a strategy to address any identified deficiencies;
- Reviewing current and future infrastructure needs to support safe and efficient anchorage operations;
- Establishing a process for the development of new anchorages outside the jurisdiction of a Canada Marine Act port authority; and
- Respecting the intent of Articles 17 and 21 of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea, which pertain to the right of innocent passage and the safety and protection of territorial seas respectively.
Finally, I would like to emphasize that the involvement of other key federal departments and agencies is highly encouraged and should also support integration with other initiatives, especially under the Oceans Protection Plan. These could include the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Pacific Pilotage Authority, and Parks Canada.
This review is a high priority for the Chamber’s members and we are eager to support the federal government and other stakeholders in developing solutions. Should you require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.