Monthly report 2: Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern B.C. Anchorages

The Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern B.C. Anchorages came into effect on February 8, 2018.

This report is for March 1 to 31, 2018.

On this page

Highlights for March

  • As part of the National Aerial Surveillance Program, Transport Canada:
    • overflew the south coast anchorages area 23 times
    • visually inspected an average of 55 ships per flight
    • observed some pollution near the shore in marinas and from smaller vessels, but none from ships anchored along the south coast
  • Transport Canada Pacific Region Oceans Protection Plan offices:
    • received 46 inquiries (e-mails, letters and phone calls)
    • responded to all of these
  • We recorded 37 e-mail exchanges with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority about noise and light:
    • In each case, the Port Authority followed up immediately with the ship’s agent
  • Members of the public commented on these aspects of the protocol and anchorages in general:
    • Length of stay – a number of residents wrote to say ships are staying too long
    • People have concerns about the safety of anchoring locations:
      • Vessels appear to be too large for the anchorage
      • Some sites are too close to shore or residential areas
    • Some ships appear to be dragging anchor
    • Anchoring impacts birds, mammals, shellfish and ground fish
    • People asked for details about how the Port Authority selects available locations
    • People asked for information about how and why anchorages were selected in the past
  • We tabulated these comments and shared them with the national Anchorages Initiative Project Lead


  • This month’s report includes usage summary data for south coast anchorages for February and March 2018, in tabular and graphical format
  • To receive the summary data for south coast anchorages for February and March 2018 please email:

Changes to the protocol

Additional information

How the Port Authority chooses anchorages

  • To determine which anchorage in the south coast will be used next, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority considers the:
    • size of the ship
    • length of stay requested
    • immediate previous use of a location
  • Safety is the primary consideration
  • The Port Authority can only assign large ships to locations that are able to accommodate them, so there will be times when anchorage use is not distributed perfectly

Addressing noise and light from ships

  • Since the beginning of April, the Chamber of Shipping and the Shipping Federation of Canada have been following up with ship’s agents to remind them about noise and light guidelines
  • Coast pilots are also providing ships’ masters a copy of the protocol when they first board

Dragging anchor

  • Ships at anchor typically move quite a bit because of changes to wind, current and tide
  • A change of orientation or position doesn’t necessarily mean the anchor is dragging
  • This area of movement is known as the anchorage’s “swinging circle”
    • The swinging circle’s diameter is calculated for each ship based on:
      • length of the anchor chain
      • length of the ship
      • available depth of water
      • other factors, such as safety allowances
    • Movement outside of this circle means the anchor may be dragging and requires immediate action
  • The duty officer onboard a ship is legally responsible to maintain an anchor watch at all times, which he or she does by:
    • monitoring ship alarms built in to the navigation software
    • regularly plotting the ship’s position
    • taking visual bearings to fixed points of land
    • monitoring other information, such as depth
  • Others can also check the vessel’s position, including the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and Canadian Coast Guard’s Marine Communications and Traffic Services Center

Laws and regulations

Learn more about the laws and regulations that apply to ships at anchor:


Transport Canada Pacific Region

As of May 1, 2018, contact our Pacific Region office at:

Let’s Talk – Oceans Protection Plan

If you have comments or suggestions about anchorages, you may also join the conversation at Let’s Talk – Oceans Protection Plan.

Report marine pollution

If you suspect marine pollution in your area, report it to the Canadian Coast Guard.

Related links