BC Ferries has launched the Northern Sea Wolf, a newly-acquired and renovated, 246-ft-long vessel that can carry 150 passengers and crew, and 35 vehicles. The vessel, previously known as the Aqua Spirit, was originally constructed in 2000. In 2017, BC Ferries bought the vessel for $12.6 million from its owner in Greece. A complete refit of the vessel was conducted at a facility in Richmond, where modernization work entailed a new galley, bridge, electrical generators, HVAC system, washrooms, elevator, chair lifts, and new cafeteria and passenger accommodation area. The total cost of the vessel is $76 million, including $15.1 million in funding from the federal government. The vessel will service the recently renewed route with non-stop service between Port Hardy on the northern tip of Vancouver Island to Bella Coola.
Algoma Shipping has completed the acquisition of the interest of Oldendorff Carriers in the CSL International Pool, including the three vessels owned by Oldendorff operating in the pool. Algoma’s interest in the pool has now increased to approximately 40%. The three vessels, handysize bulker Alice Oldendorff and panamax bulkers Harmen Oldendorff and Sophie Oldendorff, have brought Algoma’s ocean going self-unloader fleet to eight vessels operating in the pool.
The expanded voluntary slowdown through Haro Strait and Boundary Pass will being once the southern resident killer whales are confirmed in the area by hydrophone data and/or trusted observers The whale monitoring period began on June 1. Participants will be notified of the slowdown start by email and on the ECHO Program website. Now in its third year, the goal of the trial is to better understand and reduce underwater noise effects on Southern Resident Killer Whales in their key foraging areas. The slowdowns are part of the ECHO Program using research that shows that reducing ship speed effectively reduces the underwater noise in nearby habitats. This in turn, is predicted to benefit the behaviour and feeding success of Southern Resident Killer Whales. The distance of the trial area has been increased by 15.1 nautical miles for a total of 29.6 nautical miles. The slowdown will continue until September 30, 2019 with two-week extensions to no later than October 31 if the whales are still present in the area.
Canadian Pacific Railway and Yang Ming have entered into an agreement to position the railroad to provide better service out of GCT Deltaport. CP will begin handling all of Yang Ming’s cargo moving through Canada in 2020 and will become the largest rail provider to Deltaport. In recent years, CP has intensified its efforts to focus on international intermodal services. Over the next 12 months, the Canadian railroad service contracts with several shipping lines will expire, potentially pitting the two Canadian railroads against each other for the business.
With a new contract in the works between the ILWU and the BCMEA, terminals in Vancouver and Prince Rupert will consider automated or semi-automated operations to accommodate growing container volumes. A very contentious issue facing waterfront employers, there are only two fully automated terminals and five semi-automated terminals in North America. Automation has the potential to help maintain the movement of good through the ports. Longshore unions view automation as a development that can potentially reduce jobs by 40-70 percent. However, automation also creates new jobs that involve computer programming and technology. The unions want to ensure if automation occurs, the jobs that are created fall under their jurisdiction and that union members will be trained to handle the new work.
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society has issued a report indicating that Canada needs to increase ocean protections. It notes that at least 30 percent of Canadian oceans should be protected to ensure all the habitats are protected and that we’re securing the future for healthy oceans. Protection could come in many forms, including banning oil, gas or mineral projects, not dumping waste and ruling out bottom-trawling fisheries. In the last two years, the percent of Canada’s oceans that are under some form of conservation agreement has risen from one percent to eight percent, a number that is likely to rise above 10 percent by next year. The full report can be found here: https://cpaws.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/CPAWS_oceans_report2019_ENG_web.pdf
After a month of negotiations with a conciliator appointed by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS) and week with targeted strike action by the ILWU and a three-hour lockout by the employers, a tentative agreement has been reached. While details of agreement won't be released until after the ratification vote. Both parties were asked to return to the bargaining table less than 24 hours before the lockout would take effect. We are pleased that a tentative agreement was reached a look forward to a period of labour stability in our ports.
The Québec Port Authority has announced the signing of a long-term commercial agreement with Hutchison Ports and CN to build and operate the new container terminal called Laurentia. The $775 million project will be financed primarily through the joint investment of the three partners. Laurentia terminal is strategically placed, and it will be able to play a unique role in the continent’s supply chain. As the major inland deep-water terminal in North America, it is the only facility in the St. Lawrence which could accommodate the new generations of very large ships. It also benefits from a direct railway and highway connection and has all the necessary space to handle efficiently thousands of containers per year. The project is currently under an environmental assessment process with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
BC Ferries has been seeking experts in reducing underwater noise as it builds new vessels and assesses reducing underwater noise from existing vessels. This is following a call by the National Energy Board in February for BC Ferries to take steps to reduce underwater noise to help the orcas. Although BC Ferries does not have an in-house expert team for underwater noise, it has accumulated more data than any other commercial fleet in the world. Help is being sought in how to ensure new vessels, equipment and on-board systems come together to ensure that noise mitigation targets can be reached.
In the aftermath of China banning plastic waste, Malaysia has claimed that there is an influx of waste containers being smuggled into the country to illegal processing plants. Malaysia will be sending around 3,000 metric tons of nonrecyclable plastic waste back to several countries, including the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia. The government has clamped down on dozens of illegal plastic recycling facilities that have popped up around the country, shuttering more than 150 plants since last July.
Five grey whales have now washed ashore dead in B.C. in the last 2 months. Three of them have been found on the shores of Haida Gwaii. Proving to be a significant issue along the west coast, more than 60 grey whales have been found beached and dead along the West Coast between California and Alaska this year. Marine mammal experts are on Haida Gwaii working to determine the whales' causes of death.
BC Ferry Services has announced the resignation of Chair Donald P. Hayes, P. Geoffrey Plant, and Brian G. Kenning, effective May 22, 2019, following the introduction of a newly enacted amendment to the Coastal Ferry Act that sets term limits of board members to a maximum of eight consecutive years. As a result, these three board members have tendered their resignations.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union – Canada have served a strike notice to GCT Global Container Terminals Canada effective 7am on Monday, May 27, 2019. Roughly two thousand workers will commence strike action at GCT Deltaport and GCT Vanterm. GCT Canada is one of several port employers which are part of the B.C. Maritime Employers Association, which bargains on their behalf. It has been negotiating a new contract with 6,000 waterfront workers, belonging mostly to the ILWU Canada, since their contract expired in March 2018. The Chamber of Shipping has sent a letter to various Ministers seeking swift intervention. The BCMEA has a plan in motion to address next steps and will continue working on the collective bargaining process.
The Vancouver government, port, trucking, and labor union representatives are working to meet a July 1 deadline for implementing updates to drayage work rules in BC. Implementing the regulations contained in last month’s B.C. Container Trucking Commissioner’s Rate and Remuneration report, which calls for a 2 percent pay increase and a new $25 fee for bobtail moves, is incredibly complex, and involves bringing together provincial and federal government agencies, the port authority, motor carriers, and union and non-union drivers. The goal of motor carriers and truckers is to improve turn times, which translate directly to better pay for drivers. To date, there is general agreement on key features, such as the 2 percent wage increase and ensuring compensation for all trucker trips. However, defining details in the plan take time and add complexity given the various entities involved in the process.
Four months ago, a severe two week-long fire aboard the Yantian Express destroyed 260 containers, and damaged 460 more. Originally destined for Halifax, the containership spent nearly four months in the Bahamas undergoing inspection and repairs and is now back up and running. Earlier this week, the vessel reached the Port of Halifax, where it will deliver some of the containers that survived the fire. The vessel will now head for China for further repairs.
Containership Maersk Patras lost a crew member overboard in the Saint Lawrence River, northeast of the junction with Saguenay River on May 19. The search and rescue effort which involved several vessels and airborne assets, was ultimately unsuccessful. Though the search started immediately after the incident, the crew member was not wearing a lifejacket and the water was 6 degrees Celsius, and the Coast Guard decided to call off the search later that night.
Montreal will see 24 cruise ships making 74 stops in the Port this season. The ships represent 17 different companies. In total, they will bring more than 113,000 passengers and crew members to the city. 2019 will bring four new ships to the city and will mark the arrival of the 500,000th Holland-America passenger.