A container ship in dock, having it’s cargo unloaded. (Associated Press File)

A container ship in dock, having it’s cargo unloaded. (Associated Press File)

Green Party calls Salish Sea ‘free parking lot for world’s largest container ships’

MP Elizabeth May rails against Port of Vancouver, Transport Canada and impact on local environment

The Greens have accused the Port of Vancouver of “mismanagement,” saying the waters around the southern Gulf Islands have been turned into “a free parking lot for the world’s largest container ships.”

That’s according to a recent written statement, where the Greens call on Minister of Transport Marc Garneau to look at the issue.

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“The presence of these freighters anchoring in the Salish Sea is incredibly disruptive to my constituents and the local environment,” said Green Party leader and M.P. for Saanich-Gulf Islands Elizabeth May. “Transport Canada’s decision to extend the Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern B.C. Anchorages is simply not acceptable.”

Paul Manly, M.P. for Nanaimo-Ladysmith echoes May’s concerns, saying that not only are local residents suffering from noise and light pollution, there’s also dust from maintenance work, sewage being dumped into the water and damage to the ocean floor caused by dragging anchors.

“Residents of Thetis Island and Ladysmith are also being affected and they’re calling for an immediate moratorium on these anchorages,” he said.

According to Transport Canada’s website there is no formal process to regulate the practices of ships anchored outside ports.

“Residents have not been properly consulted by Transport Canada nor have they been updated on the status of these ships,” said May. “Surely it would have been common courtesy for Transport Canada to ensure that these early measures occurred? The Salish Sea is a sensitive ecosystem, home to endangered species like the southern resident killer whale whose habitat is being constantly invaded and threatened by the presence of these vessels.

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“I therefore ask Transport Canada to have the freighters using southern B.C. anchorages removed by the end of June, when the protocol was supposed to end, and find another solution to traffic jams in the Port of Vancouver. Residents and wildlife should not have to suffer for the mistakes of Transport Canada.”

The Port of Vancouver responded with a written statement.

“Growing trade demands have led to increasing demand for anchorages, often in excess of Port of Vancouver capacity. When all Port of Vancouver anchorages are in use, ships anchor outside of port jurisdiction, including around the Gulf Islands.”

They go on to say that Gulf Island anchorages fall with the jurisdiction of Transport Canada and they are only assisting them. They say they have set time limits for anchorage use, added three extra anchorages in English Bay and avoid assigning ships to Gulf Islands anchoarages whenever possible.

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Transport Canada said they launched the Anchorages Initiative in 2017 and an interim protocol was enacted in February 2018. They say they are presently engaged in a period of careful consultation with stakeholders.

In a written statement, Transport Canada wrote, “It is important to note that in Canada, as in many other countries, the right to anchor a vessel is part of the common law of navigation. A ship is free to anchor temporarily and for a reasonable period of time in any appropriate location.”



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

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