Canada Plans Whale-Friendly Tanker

file photo
file photo

Published Aug 31, 2019 5:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

The government of Canada is funding the design of an LNG-fueled tanker that will be up to 90 percent quieter than traditional tankers.

The move is recognition that marine species, including the Southern Resident killer whale, are impacted by underwater vessel noise. Acoustic disturbances can reduce their ability to find prey, effectively navigate and communicate with each other, while also creating stress. The Quiet Vessel Initiative is expected to therefore help in the recovery of Canada's whale populations. 

Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, announced a commitment of up to $30 million for the design to be developed with Vancouver-based Teekay Shipping (Canada). 

The low-emission and low-noise crude oil tanker will be equipped with the latest proven quiet technologies and powered by Canadian LNG. To limit emissions and ensure the best outcome for marine life, the vessel will have specific design targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent and reduce noise by up to 90 percent, compared to conventional tankers.

“Our Government takes the protection of endangered marine species very seriously,” says Garneau. “This initiative is a unique opportunity to advance low noise technology in a deep sea commercial fleet, and a key component of the long term plan to mitigate the impacts of shipping on the Southern Resident killer whale. This is an important step for Canada’s plan to decrease overall noise in the region as findings are evaluated, shared broadly and applied to other vessels.”

The funding comes from Canada's $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways. Since it started in November 2016, over 50 initiatives have been announced in the areas of marine safety, research and ecosystem protection that span coast-to-coast-to-coast.

Actions through the Oceans Protection Plan, the Whales Initiative, the Emergency Order measures, and accommodation measures such as the Quiet Vessel Initiative have all been designed to address key threats to the Southern Resident killer whale throughout their critical habitat.

Building on the Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada introduced last year the $167.4 million Whales Initiative to protect and support the recovery of three at-risk whale species: the Southern Resident killer whale; the North Atlantic right whale; and the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga whale. In October 2018, an additional $61.5 million was dedicated to address threats to the Southern Resident killer whale. These initiatives support the recovery of Canada’s endangered whale populations by addressing the main threats they face: lack of prey, noise and physical disturbance from vessels, vessel strikes and pollution from land-based sources.