Minister of Transport announces funding for Indigenous communities to address underwater vessel noise impacts on marine mammals

News release

June 30, 2021                         Vancouver, British Columbia                         Transport Canada

The path to reconciliation requires a true partnership between Canada and First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation when it comes to decisions about Canada’s marine environment. The Government of Canada, in cooperation with Indigenous Peoples, is taking concrete measures to address the complex range of threats that contribute to the endangerment of marine mammals, including addressing increased noise levels from nearby ships. This important partnership with Indigenous communities in British Columbia is one based on traditional knowledge sharing, science and inclusive engagement.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra announced almost $750,000 in funding through the Quiet Vessel Initiative for five Indigenous communities along the Trans Mountain Expansion Project marine shipping route.

The Indigenous communities receiving funding are the Malahat Nation, Cowichan Tribes, T’Sou-ke First Nation, Pacheedaht First Nation and Tseycum First Nation. Recipient communities will use this funding to build and improve their scientific capacity and expertise to measure and monitor the local impacts of underwater vessel noise. This includes purchasing and deploying equipment (such as hydrophones), providing training, collecting and analyzing acoustic data, and developing community awareness and education programs.

The five-year, $26 million Quiet Vessel Initiative is a critical investment in the most promising technologies, vessel designs, retrofits and operational practices to make vessels quieter. It is part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to address underwater vessel noise and to protect the marine environment.


“Canada’s approach to marine safety must continue to evolve to be as effective at protecting the ocean environment and vulnerable marine species as Canadians expect. Through the Quiet Vessel Initiative, we are working to address the impacts of underwater vessel noise, while gathering data to better understand how to protect our diverse marine ecosystems. We look forward to collaborating with Indigenous communities on these projects to learn from their traditional knowledge and to advance efforts to protect Canada’s marine ecosystems.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport

“Malahat Nation looks forward to our project with the Quiet Vessel Initiative. Over the next two years we will initiate an acoustic monitoring program in Malahat’s traditional marine territory. This program will support the monitoring and protection of species like Southern Resident killer whales who are so important in our ecosystems and culture.”

Chief George Harry
Malahat Nation

“Cowichan Tribes would like to announce that we have been successful in acquiring funding through Transport Canada’s Quiet Vessel Initiative (QVI). These funds will be used to enhance our existing on-water program, S-hwuhwa’us Thi’lut Kw’atl’kwa (Thunderbird Protecting the Ocean). We undertake this work in order to ensure current and future generations may have continued access to and protection over our Marine Territory and all living beings within, thereby carrying out our inherent responsibilities.

This funding will allow for the purchase and installation of two shore-based hydrophone systems that will actively collect baseline underwater-soundscape information in Sansum Narrows. Sansum Narrows, central to Cowichan culture and history, is an important travel corridor for marine animals, but is threatened by the cumulative impacts of continued expanding use and ongoing developments.

This project will grow our understanding of the complex soundscape created by human activity in Sansum Narrows, which can be used to develop an action plan for reducing our cumulative impact on that important ecosystem. These efforts are directly linked to protecting and revitalizing our threatened marine relatives, including Q’ul-lhanumutsun - Southern Resident and Bigg’s Killer Whales.

Through these efforts, and in working alongside and collaboration with the BC Coast Hydrophone Network, Cowichan Tribes will be pursuing new partnerships and building upon existing ones that will help support overall capacity to develop an integrated network of monitoring within the our Marine Territory.”

Acting Chief Cindy Daniels
Cowichan Tribes

Quick facts

  • The Quiet Vessel Initiative is one of eight accommodation measures developed to address the concerns of Indigenous communities regarding the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

  • Transport Canada is planning to launch another call for proposals to eligible Indigenous communities in late summer 2021. For more information, Indigenous communities can contact the Quiet Vessel Initiative at:

Associated links


Allison St-Jean
Senior Communications Advisor & Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
(613) 290-8656

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

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