To realize its bold and aspirational vision of becoming “the world’s most sustainable port,” the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority supports a collaborative approach with the marine industry. Industry plays a key role in advancing leading initiatives that incentivize port customers to reduce the impact of operations on the environment.

The port authority’s EcoAction Program recognizes a variety of fuel, technology and environmental management options, such as underwater noise-limiting technology, which marine carriers can adopt to qualify their vessels for discounted harbour dues rates. Bronze, silver and gold-level discounts create differentiated harbour dues rates, with up to 47 per cent discounts available, depending on the measures adopted. Landside, the Energy Action Initiative is a joint program with BC Hydro that helps terminal operators and other port tenants enhance their energy conservation practices and save costs. The goal of this program is to protect the energy security of the growing Vancouver-area gateway by reducing energy waste.

To recognize marine carriers and port tenants that excel in environmental stewardship and attain the highest participation rates in the EcoAction Program and Energy Action Initiative, the port authority launched the Blue Circle Awards. This year, 23 recipients were honoured for the tenth annual Blue Circle Awards.

2018 Blue Circle Award highlights include:

  • “K” Line, Princess Cruises and Westwood Shipping Lines have been awarded every year since the inaugural awards in 2009.
  • Hapag-Lloyd has been recognized nine times.
  • Disney Cruise Line has received an award for every year it has homeported in Vancouver.
  • CMA CGM, HMM, and Mediterranean Shipping Company have won this award for six consecutive years since 2013.
  • Hamburg Süd has won this award for four consecutive years since 2015.
  • In its second year, the Energy Action Initiative awards category continues to expand.

Additionally, Celebrity cruise line’s Eclipse was the only vessel that visited during the 2019 season to receive the gold-level discount for having a quiet-ship notation, an added criteria for underwater noise reduction that was introduced to the EcoAction Program in 2017. On a separate yet related note, Hurtigruten line’s cruise vessel the Roald Amundsen, one of only two hybrid ships in the world using electrical propulsion, will be the only such vessel to call at the Port of Vancouver this season. This will also mark Hurtigruten’s inaugural sailing to North America.

The Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program is a port authority-led collaborative regional initiative aimed at better understanding and managing the cumulative effects of shipping activity on at-risk whales, such as the iconic southern resident killer whales, along the southern coast of B.C. Among other ECHO Program initiatives, the marine industry has participated in voluntary vessel slowdown trials to help reduce underwater noise from large piloted vessels transiting Haro Strait. These research trials began in 2017 and take place during the summer months when the southern resident killer whales return to the Haro Strait area to feed. During the 2018 slowdown trial, the average participation rate across all vessel types was 87 per cent, with cruise vessels at the highest participation rate of 94 per cent.  In 2019, the ECHO Program is once again coordinating a slowdown trial, this time in an expanded area which includes Haro Strait and Boundary Pass. The 2019 trial began in early July and is expected to run until the end of September, with potential two-week extensions to the end of October if the whales are still present in the area.

Building on the learnings and success of the 2018 voluntary lateral displacement trial, this year, the ECHO Program and Transport Canada are once again working closely with other advisors and partners to coordinate a lateral displacement trial, this time for tugs and barge operators only, in the Canadian inshore area of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The goal of the trial is to reduce underwater noise contributions from tug and barge traffic in the known killer whale feeding area, through high levels of participation, similar to 2018. The voluntary inshore lateral displacement trial began on June 17, 2019 and will continue until October 31, 2019.

In response to impending changes to global requirements to reduce greenhouse gases from the International Maritime Organization, the port authority is also actively working with government and industry to facilitate the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel. Regional operators, Seaspan Ferries and BC Ferries, are currently operating vessels on LNG, and the port authority is currently working on initiatives to allow bunkering in Vancouver, as well as provide fee incentives for ship owners bringing LNG-fueled vessels to Vancouver. To further promote and enhance its efforts to lead in this area, the Port of Vancouver recently joined SEA/LNG and was the first North American port to do so. SEA/LNG is a not for profit collaborative industry foundation committed to furthering the use of LNG as marine fuel.

In 2009, the Canada Place cruise terminal became the first in Canada and third in the world to offer shore power for cruise ships, and has been offering incentives to shipping lines such as discounts on harbour dues for shore-power enabled vessels. Since shore power was installed in 2009, greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 20,750 metric tonnes. During the 2019 season, nearly 50 per cent of all cruise vessel calls will be shore power capable, marking an all-time record. To further help reduce emissions within the Port of Vancouver, shore power connections for container vessels are now available at Centerm and Deltaport container terminals.

Additionally, to promote transparency when reporting on the results of its sustainability initiatives, the port authority seeks out independent verification in accordance with Global Reporting Initiative Standards.

Through collaborative leadership with industry and other stakeholders, the Port of Vancouver is making progress toward becoming the world’s most sustainable port. The continued participation of the marine industry in leading sustainability initiatives is contributing to realization of the port authority’s vision.