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NEB suggests noise reduction for ferries and other vessels in B.C.'s Salish Sea

CALGARY — A reconsidered National Energy Board report endorsing the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline suggests potential limits on whale-watching boats and noise reduction efforts for ferries that ply British Columbia’s Salish Sea.

The shipping route that is a critical habitat for southern resident killer whales would see a seven-fold increase in tankers carrying diluted bitumen to offshore markets if the federal government approves the project.

The board’s latest report makes 16 new recommendations for the government, including reducing noise of ferries and incentives and requirements for quiet vessel design.

Robert Steedman, chief environmental officer with the National Energy Board, told a news conference the recommendations are broad and “not necessarily prescriptive.”

He says the solutions the government will want to examine are complex and all activities on the Salish Sea would have to be considered.

The board has already made 156 recommendations on the controversial project, and Steedman says some of the latest ones relate to underwater noise generated by marine vessels and the possibility ships could strike marine species or disrupt their communication and behaviour.

“The recommendations relate to the entire system of marine navigation and marine traffic in the area and the panel feels strongly that as the recommendations are implemented they will offset the relatively minor effects of the project-related marine traffic and in fact will benefit the entire Salish Sea ecosystem,” he says.


The Canadian Press