Government of Canada announces new system to improve marine vessel traffic flow at the Port of Vancouver and in Southern British Columbia

News release

August 12, 2021                                    Vancouver, British Columbia                              Transport Canada

Marine shipping plays a critical role getting our exports to global markets and providing Canadians with the goods we use every day. As Canada’s largest port, the Port of Vancouver provides a strategic gateway for Canada’s supply chain and economy.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced that the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority will work with partners to design, by March 31, 2022, a new collaborative system to manage marine vessel traffic and optimize the supply chain flow for this strategic gateway. Once implemented, this system will:

  • strengthen marine safety by reducing congestion and actively managing marine traffic in the busiest, most confined waters of the port;
  • improve the efficiency and reliability of the flow of goods through this strategic gateway for all supply chain partners;
  • reduce environmental impacts, including noise impacts in Southern Resident killer whale habitat, by limiting unnecessary vessel movements; and
  • reduce negative social impacts (like ambient noise and light pollution) by reducing overall anchorage usage in Southern British Columbia and implementing a Code of Conduct for vessels at anchorage.

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority will work with partners to develop the implementation plan for the new system. This plan will include approaches to policies, procedures, practices, incentives, technologies, information, and data-sharing needed to deliver a traffic management system that creates benefits for all partners. This approach will reflect best practices seen in some leading ports around the world.

Consultation will be a key part of the process, and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and Transport Canada will engage with the port, other partners, Indigenous groups, and local stakeholders in the development of this new system. The department will be available to provide technical expertise and help ensure key objectives are achieved. Transport Canada will also consider any potential regulatory changes that would support the development of this new system, and will ensure the outcomes of this work are reflected in the Ports Modernization initiative currently underway.


“Thanks to the Oceans Protection Plan, marine shipping has never been safer or more sustainable in Canada. By collaborating with industry and shipping communities to improve supply chain efficiency in a safe and responsible way, we can increase our maritime trade, and support Canada’s economic recovery and growth, while protecting our coasts and waterways for generations to come.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport

“We are proud to collaborate with port partners, stakeholders, Indigenous groups, and government on this new marine vessel traffic management system that will not only improve and optimize the efficient movement of goods through our port system, but also reduce the environmental and community impacts of trade activity in our gateway.”

Robin Silvester
President and CEO, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

Quick facts

  • This new system will also build on lessons learned from Canada’s $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan—the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways. This national plan is creating a world-leading marine safety system and work is being done in close collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, local stakeholders, and coastal communities.

  • Since the Oceans Protection Plan was announced in November 2016, over 50 initiatives have been announced in the areas of marine safety, traffic management, research, and ecosystem protection that span coast-to-coast-to-coast. They include an Anchorages Initiative and an Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern British Columbia Anchorages.

  • Established in 2018, this Interim Protocol addresses the increased usage of anchorages, and ensures the balanced use of these sites across Southern British Columbia.

  • As Canada’s largest port, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority handles $1 out of every $3 of Canada’s trade in goods transiting outside North America, accounting for almost $240 billion in goods and more than 2,700 foreign vessel calls annually.

  • Marine traffic management plans are a best practice in large ports around the world. They support marine safety but also, through increased information-sharing and collaboration across the port community, enable more predictable and reliable supply chain performance for businesses.

  • Just as air traffic controllers manage arrivals and departures at our airports, this new system will do the same for marine traffic at the Port of Vancouver.

Associated links


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

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

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