Ships Asked to Curb Night Anchorage Moves Around Canada’s Gulf Islands

As of July 1, commercial ship operators anchoring around the Southern Gulf Islands near British Columbia are being asked to avoid nighttime arrivals or departures, as the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and its industry partners work together to reduce the effects of Canada’s growing trade on coastal communities.

Under the port authority’s new arrival and departure window for ships anchoring around the Southern Gulf Islands, ship operators are asked to prioritize arrivals and departures between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., to help reduce noise disruptions from ships lowering their anchors in the area at night.

“The measure will be trialed for six months, giving the port authority, industry and Indigenous and local communities time to assess its effectiveness, both operationally and on improving the quality of life of coastal communities – ahead of any decision to make it permanent,” the port authority explained in a statement.

Outside of the Port of Vancouver, ships are free to anchor in an appropriate location for a reasonable period of time per the common law right of navigation, including around the Southern Gulf Islands.

Ships have anchored at specific locations in and around the Southern Gulf Islands for decades as these anchorages are in deep water and can accommodate larger ships. Through an interim protocol introduced by Transport Canada in 2018, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority—the federal agency that oversees the Port of Vancouver—manages the assignment of 33 anchorages around the Southern Gulf Islands.

The port authority has said that the arrival and departure window for ships anchoring around the Southern Gulf Islands—which includes several exceptions such as when a ship needs to leave its anchorage to berth at a terminal for cargo loading or requires safe refuge during inclement weather—is part of broader collaborative efforts to reduce the impacts of Canada’s growing trade through the region.

Based on 2022 numbers, it is estimated that more than 75 nighttime ship arrivals and departures at Southern Gulf Islands anchorages will be avoided over the course of the trial period.