Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

From plankton to whales: underwater noise and its impacts on marine life

Description

As members of the ECHO group, British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. (BCF) and Washington State Ferries (WSF) are working together on policy development and in-water noise issues relating to the Southern Resident Killer Whales.

Policy Development: In 2015, BCF and Washington State Ferries (WSF) worked together to develop a joint policy and Best Management Practices for whale/ferry encounters. The goal is to coordinate effective whale/ferry encounters given that:

  • The Southern Resident Killer Whale and other species share the same cross-boundary waters,

  • Southern Resident Killer Whale are listed as “species at risk” for both countries,

  • BCF transits U.S. waters (Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay) and WSF transits Canadian waters (Anacortes to Sidney).

One policy challenge was how to approach legislative differences between the two countries. For example, U.S. guidelines designate a 200 meter ‘no approach zone’ for vessels, while in Canada it is 100 meters.

This policy was the first of its kind for both BCF and WSF, and is the first policy of its kind for ferry operators in Canada and the U.S. This is another step in a series of bi-national efforts to protect the Southern Residents.

In-water Noise: WSF has been working with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the University of Washington on in-water noise related to ferry terminal construction projects. WSF has also collected in-water noise data for some of its ferries, and will discuss potential implications based on current U.S. guidelines for in-water noise and its effects on whales and pinnipeds. WSF and BCF are hoping to collect more ferry in-water data that will contribute to a better understanding of their fleets’ acoustic signatures. This could lead to possible operational or design adaptations.

Whale Tracking: BCF has been working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to install hydrophones at several key locations. The real time streaming of the underwater acoustic environment from underwater hydrophones will pick up Resident Killer Whale calls identifying when and where the whales are present and also calculate the corresponding level of background acoustic noise.

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Shared Waters – Southern Resident Killer Whales and Ferries Crossing the Border

2016SSEC

As members of the ECHO group, British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. (BCF) and Washington State Ferries (WSF) are working together on policy development and in-water noise issues relating to the Southern Resident Killer Whales.

Policy Development: In 2015, BCF and Washington State Ferries (WSF) worked together to develop a joint policy and Best Management Practices for whale/ferry encounters. The goal is to coordinate effective whale/ferry encounters given that:

  • The Southern Resident Killer Whale and other species share the same cross-boundary waters,

  • Southern Resident Killer Whale are listed as “species at risk” for both countries,

  • BCF transits U.S. waters (Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay) and WSF transits Canadian waters (Anacortes to Sidney).

One policy challenge was how to approach legislative differences between the two countries. For example, U.S. guidelines designate a 200 meter ‘no approach zone’ for vessels, while in Canada it is 100 meters.

This policy was the first of its kind for both BCF and WSF, and is the first policy of its kind for ferry operators in Canada and the U.S. This is another step in a series of bi-national efforts to protect the Southern Residents.

In-water Noise: WSF has been working with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the University of Washington on in-water noise related to ferry terminal construction projects. WSF has also collected in-water noise data for some of its ferries, and will discuss potential implications based on current U.S. guidelines for in-water noise and its effects on whales and pinnipeds. WSF and BCF are hoping to collect more ferry in-water data that will contribute to a better understanding of their fleets’ acoustic signatures. This could lead to possible operational or design adaptations.

Whale Tracking: BCF has been working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to install hydrophones at several key locations. The real time streaming of the underwater acoustic environment from underwater hydrophones will pick up Resident Killer Whale calls identifying when and where the whales are present and also calculate the corresponding level of background acoustic noise.