Vancouver Island

BC, Canada

August 21, 2018
Via Email (;
The Honourable Marc Garneau, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Transport
330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0N5

Dear Minister Garneau:

Re: Interim Protocol using Saltair Anchorages

We, the Saltair Ocean Protection Committee, are dismayed by the recent increase in usage of our coastal waters for the free long-term parking of international cargo ships at the destination of Vancouver Fraser Port. Since the inception by Transport Canada on Feb 8, 2018 of an Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern B.C. Anchorages, we have repeatedly been told that this new Protocol was an equitable way of managing the issue of the nuisance generated by so many international cargo ships anchoring in the Gulf Islands. We have formed the Saltair Ocean Protection Committee to investigate this issue, educate, and advocate for our community. During the 6 months of this trial, we have tabled two petitions in the Canadian Parliament, sent numerous emails, and made multiple phone calls of complaints. This letter further elaborates on the seven main reasons why we have concluded the Interim Protocol is not equitable and not a solution to this issue:

1 – The Interim Protocol initially asserted it would maximize berth usage within established Ports, English Bay anchorages, Nanaimo Port anchorages, Royal Roads anchorages, and would only use the Gulf Islands for the occasional overflow of freighters due to bad weather, Ports congestion, rail delays, etc. However, this assertion has proven completely untrue. As updated in the Interim Protocol web page: “The 6 anchorages at the Nanaimo Port and the 5 at Esquimalt (Royal Roads) are not part of this protocol”. The Interim Protocol failed to include Ports anchorages because the legal framework was not put in place to do so. As a consequence, freighters have been sent to anchor in the Gulf Islands even when there are many spots available in Ports, Ports anchorages, and English Bay regardless of bad weather or congestion of any sort. Since the inception of the Interim Protocol, Coastal and Gulf Islands’ anchorages have seen an increase in usage of 200% to 1000%. Ship agents are economically motivated to use more of the outside of Port anchorages; moorage is free and assignments are all granted without question.

2 – Failure to include ports nullifies the Interim Protocol as a valid working model and should have triggered its immediate termination. The interdependencies of the international maritime supply chain require the collaboration of stakeholders. The Interim Protocol is guiding vessels to anchor with a blindfold on their eyes; they have no awareness and no jurisdiction over what is happening in Ports where their loading and unloading will take place. When a load is not ready for a ship, the Interim Protocol authorities are not informed. More ships arrive too early and are not asked to adjust/reduce their speed to arrive just on time. The lack of exchange of data between ports and the Interim Protocol prevents any improvement in managing delays. This lack of communication is a major shortcoming in Canada implementing a “just-in-time” berthing protocol, which is what modern developed countries worldwide utilize to avoid these anchoring issues and all of their inherent consequences.

3 – Because ports are regulated with a maximum anchoring period of 7-10 days, international vessels that need to wait longer than ten days are automatically directed to outside of Port anchorages. Common law gives rights to commercial vessels to anchor outside of Ports for a reasonable duration. However, Canada, unlike other modern countries, has not yet put in place any regulation for the maximum number of days deemed ‘reasonable.’ In a context of over supply of bulk carriers, the lack of regulation gives a strong incentive to commercial ship owners to idle their vessels for free in our coastal and Gulf Islands waters. Demurrage fees continue to be paid and incentivize ships to arrive too early. Since the financial crisis of 2008, the international shipping industry is plagued with over capacity. One of their strategies is idling their ships all over the world. They are idling for free and with no regulation in our coastal waters. No wonder the Vancouver Chamber of Shipping embraces the Interim Protocol and advocated for a 12 months extension.

4 – Before the inception of the Interim Protocol, BC Pilots, in collaboration with ship captains, would decide which outside of Port anchorage were best to use. They rarely picked Ladysmith due to the distance and complex voyage through narrow channels. The Interim Protocol argues it is using a mathematical algorithm to distribute vessels fairly and transparently among outside of Ports anchorages. However, they have decided to include historical anchorages of Ladysmith/Saltair that were rarely used before, but they decided to not include planned new anchorages (Gabriola Island). The Interim Protocol did not use seven anchorages in April 2018. In May 2018, Houston Pass (3 anchorages) and Kulleet Bay (2 anchorages) were not used. It is unclear which anchorages are still in the algorithm. The Interim Protocol did not share the raw data with us as they had previously promised to do. The distribution of vessels has been neither fair nor transparent. Based on this lack of transparency and fairness, it appears that the Interim Protocol was implemented to specifically add in the usage of historical anchorages in the Ladysmith/Saltair area.

5 – The Interim Protocol did not consider the impact and level of nuisance to the environment or residents. There are criteria that the Interim Protocol has not examined when it comes to evaluating the industrial usage of an anchorage. The Interim Protocol did not factor criteria such as: – Very close proximity to low bank shores – Densely populated residential areas – Public Beach access points and swimming areas – Rural village with a “dark sky policy” – Protected blue herons nesting area – Oyster Beds – Davis Lagoon sensitive area

6 – There is nothing equitable in targeting small communities with limited resources and imposing the nuisance of industrial activity in their backyard. No compensation is offered for the nuisance and losses suffered. If such a project were made on land, for example establishing an industrial long-term parking lot with idling vehicles day and night, all these criteria would be examined as to where the least impact of the nuisance is experienced. Appropriate compensation would have to be put in place to compensate for the loss of property enjoyment, real estate value loss, eco-tourism and small businesses losses. Transport Canada has no plan to provide indemnification to affected coastal communities. There have been no economic, socio-psychological, and environmental impact studies to measure losses and damages. Instead, we are told it is an equitable program.

7 – The list of nuisance and issues created by these abusive anchoring practices is well known and has not been remediated in any way so far:

  • Loss of quiet enjoyment of our properties, coastal residents are awakened at night by the noise generated by vessels with their anchors and generators
  • Loss of dark skies. At night the vessels have more than 50 lights and illuminate our bedrooms and damage our quality of sleep; we can no longer enjoy watching stars and the Milky Way. – Loss of public space and quiet beach walks and obstructed sceneries of the Gulf Islands
  • Damage to our seabed by the scouring of anchors and chains.
  • Addition of invasive species threatening our fragile coastal ecosystems.
  • Noise and light disturbance for Blue Herons nesting habitats and the Orcas, both endangered species.
  • Obstructed views and noise/light disturbance financial losses with cancelled reservations for our rural rental cottages, Bed and Breakfasts, and eco tourism businesses. – Loss of real estate resale value due to the close proximity of undesirable industrial activity.
  • Lack of proper surveillance has allowed ships to conduct activities such as improper discharges, fishing/crabbing, banging and working maintenance on board, shifting position at anchor and engine restart.

The seven reasons above describe in detail the unfairness of the Interim Protocol, which has just been extended for an additional 12 months. The Interim Protocol has failed to deliver any sustainable solution and has rendered our pristine coastal waters an industrial parking lot. The issue remains unresolved and we are looking at what can be done next.

Are there alternatives? Yes, but our Federal Government needs to be working at developing sustainable solutions in collaboration with the Ports and the stakeholders of the Canadian and global supply chain. The current Interim Protocol should be terminated immediately. The current data, collected in isolation of pertinent information from Ports and stakeholders, is useless and does nothing to solve the root of the problem or help reduce nuisance to coastal communities. Transport Canada must direct its efforts to developing the innovative “just-in-time” berthing system as implemented by other modern countries worldwide. This should be a new protocol working actively with Ports Authorities, ship agents, and supply chain stakeholders to share information and collect data pertaining to each vessel’s performance. We must identify ships that have not adjusted/reduced their speed to decrease waiting time in Ports.

This protocol should also identify patterns of inefficiencies in the Canadian supply chain and collect relevant data to initiate a remediation process. Ultimately, ships must arrive just-in-time at the berth and loads must be ready for them. For the industry, the benefits of this new approach of “just-in-time” berthing are obvious: reduced CO2 emission, savings in fuel, and more efficient transit time on both land and water. For communities such as ours, as well as the wider coastal environment, the benefits are also obvious. A modern protocol would eliminate most, if not all, of our concerns related to noise, light, contamination, and loss of property and ecotourism economic value.

A modern “just-in-time” berthing protocol would restore Canada’s reputation as a leader in industry and in the protection of the Ocean and the Environment.

Yours Truly,


Contact: Kay Morisset,

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