The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA, operating in the Port of Vancouver infrastructure) has received international acclaim for its initiative to incentivise quieter vessels by offering substantial discounts in its basic harbour rate to ships meeting prescribed underwater noise emission criteria. VFPA's Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) program aims to better understand and manage the impact of shipping activities on at-risk whales throughout the southern coast of British Columbia. Key to this VFPA initiative is the ability to accurately assess underwater sound emissions from vessels as they navigate the access corridor to the port. This is enabled through the deployment and operation by JASCO Applied Sciences, in collaboration with Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), of Underwater Listening Stations that provide real-time automated measurements of vessels’ noise emissions relative to other ships in their class through JASCO's PortListen® solution – an ANSI-conforming acoustic measurement system and web-enabled user interface, supported by ONC’s subsea network and data archive.
The ECHO program first deployed two listening station units in 2015 in the Strait of Georgia off the southern West Coast of Canada, with the goal of assessing and incentivising quieter shipping. This placed the Vancouver port at the forefront of international efforts to reduce shipping noise in the oceans. A recent article in the PortStrategy industry publication describes how the VFPA has now added noise criteria to its decade-running EcoAction incentives program for more environmentally friendly vessels. This addition, reported PortStrategy, “[makes] Canada the first country in the world with a marine noise reduction incentive.”
At the leading international conference OCEANOISE 2017 held earlier this month in Vilanova i la Geltrú, Spain, a presentation by Orla Robinson of the VFPA in collaboration with JASCO, describing the technical implementation of the underwater ship noise assessment and quiet vessel incentivising program, received considerable attention. In a related television newscast, which included a press conference by scientists Michel André, chair of OCEANOISE, and Michael Ainslie of the Dutch research agency TNO, the trailblazing achievement of Vancouver was highly praised as an example for other ports to follow. The video segment below (in Catalan and Spanish, subtitled) is excerpted from the newscast.
Read the ECHO Program Annual Report 2016.