As a nursery and feeding ground, the Fraser River Estuary connects a food web linking fish, birds, and marine mammals across thousands of kilometres of the North Pacific Ocean. Even at a fraction of their former abundance, it is the rearing grounds for Canada’s largest runs of Pacific salmon. Despite this, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is proposing to double the size of its shipping terminal at Roberts Bank in the heart of the Fraser Estuary.
In 2020, a federal review panel concluded that the Terminal 2 shipping expansion project would have significant adverse and cumulative effects to populations of Fraser Chinook. This is due to the proposal’s footprint in the Fraser Estuary and from the migration disruption caused by the terminal’s placement. The panel also concluded that the project’s increase in marine shipping would amplify underwater noise in the Salish Sea, leading to significant adverse effects on endangered Southern Resident killer whales.
To compensate for these negative effects, the Port Authority has been considering governance options for implementing an ‘unconventional offsetting’ program. However, there is a lack of evidence that offsetting is an effective tool to mitigate the loss of habitat and ecological processes.
Raincoast is bringing this to the attention of the public and decision makers through impact analysis and collaborative communication efforts with other scientists, organizations, and stakeholders to ensure that the negative effects on Chinook salmon and Southern Resident killer whales that can not be mitigated are reflected in the government’s decision on T2.
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