Pilot projects aim to reduce underwater noise from shipping that affect Southern Resident Killer Whales

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Haida Nation and Gitga’at Nation will host pilot projects beginning in fall 2018

As part of the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, the Canadian government is launching pilot projects for the Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness initiative that hope to reduce underwater noise impacting Southern Resident Killer Whales.

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau made the announcement during a speech at the British Columbia Chamber of Shipping’s Annual General Meeting Wednesday, according to a press release.

The pilot projects will be on British Columbia’s North Coast and will be hosted by the Haida Nation and the Gitga’at Nation will host pilot projects beginning in fall 2018 and concluding in fall 2019.

“I am proud of the partnerships our Government is building under the Oceans Protection Plan. The traditional knowledge and expertise we are gaining from Canada‘s Indigenous peoples and coastal communities is a critical element to safeguarding Canada’s waters, and the Enhanced Marine Situational Awareness project is an excellent example of these partnerships at work,” said Garneau.

“In addition, Budget 2018 funding will allow us to take the next steps needed to address the impacts of human activities that are threatening endangered whales. Safeguarding whales is a government priority that we take very seriously.”

The two First Nations will work with Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard and other federal departments to develop, test and evaluate a new marine awareness information system.

The system will provide coastal partners, including Indigenous peoples, provincial governments, scientific non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders, with essential maritime information, including near real-time data on ship traffic. They are the first of up to nine communities that will host pilot versions of the new system across the three coasts.

“Our involvement in the development of the Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness initiative gives us access to the best coastal marine information today. We’ll be aware of all shipping traffic in near real-time, be able to make informed decisions if there is a crisis or accident and better plan for the future; such as keeping vessels well offshore,” said kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin, president of the Haida Nation.

“By incorporating our Nation’s deep ocean knowledge into the system, all users in the future will have a better understanding of Haida Gwaii and the reasons we insist on its protection.”

The Gitga’at First Nation said it is pleased to participate in the pilot project that will provide the ability to monitor marine mammals.

“Being able to contribute to and have access to other sources of this critical information will serve to enhance prevention measures and improve response capacity in the event of a marine emergency in local waterways,” said Roger Sterritt, manager, Gitg’at Emergency Response Team Gitga’at First Nation.

Garneau also announced that, following an open, competitive process, Aqua-Guard Spill Response Inc., from North Vancouver, British Columbia, has been awarded a $1.2 million contract for new marine environment response equipment, specifically multi-cassette portable skimmer packages. The Canadian Coast Guard uses portable skimmers to recover marine pollution spills and reduce the potential impact to shorelines and other natural resources.

In addition, Budget 2018 announced more than $167 million to help the Government of Canada better understand risks to whales, including the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale. This budget funding will allow the Government of Canada to take the next steps needed to research and take action to address the impacts of human activities on Canada’s endangered whales.



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