Overview of anchorages in southern British Columbia

Interim measures to effectively manage the use of anchorages outside of port boundaries along the southern coast of British Columbia.

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The increasing volume of export trade through western Canada’s gateways is having an impact on the use of anchorages within the port authorities along the southern coast of British Columbia.

Vessels anchor outside of the port jurisdiction when the ports are at capacity or when their estimated time at anchor exceeds the time limits for anchoring in a port. Vessels cannot always fill their holds all at once and may need to wait for additional shipments to arrive, meaning more days at anchor when they are in port.

As a result, there is an increased demand for safe anchorages outside of port boundaries.

Interim protocol for anchorages in southern B.C.

To address concerns expressed by Canadians, Transport Canada has asked that the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, on a temporary and voluntary basis, manage anchorages using a procedure that more evenly distributes the use of anchorages along B.C.’s south coast.

This is a change from current practice, where the ship’s agent and master select an anchorage in consultation with a coast pilot without considering equitable rotation.

The Interim Protocol, which is supported by industry, was introduced on February 8, 2018.

Ships at anchor have voluntarily agreed to follow specific guidelines, to minimize impact on any one community.

Interim measures include:

  • distributing anchorages equitably and fairly along British Columbia’s southern coast between the Port of Vancouver, the Port of Nanaimo and the Southern Gulf Islands
  • implementing noise and lighting restrictions for anchored vessels
  • monitoring south coast anchorages, including overflights of the area by the National Aerial Surveillance Program

All vessels at anchor will continue to comply with all international and Canadian statutes, obligations and guidelines related to safety, the environment and fisheries, and the common practice of good seamanship.

Improving anchorages management

As part of the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada is reviewing anchorages management practices and issues. This work includes:

  • engaging with governments, marine industry, technical experts, Indigenous groups, community organizations and stakeholders;
  • researching and analyzing the environmental, economic, social, safety and security impacts of anchorages;
  • examining the management of anchorages outside of public ports; and
  • creating a manual with best practices for ships at anchor.

Collaboration is the cornerstone of the Oceans Protection Plan and engagement on this initiative is ongoing.

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