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New video highlights threats to Fraser River estuary, salmon and killer whales from Terminal 2 port expansion

Raincoast scientists call on the federal government to reject T2 and protect Fraser estuary’s endangered wildlife.

Sidney, British Columbia: A new short video, produced by Raincoast Conservation Foundation and supported by a coalition of conservation groups, highlights the threats to the Fraser estuary from the proposed Terminal 2 expansion. The Port of Vancouver wants to double the size of its Deltaport shipping terminal at Roberts Bank, creating a concrete island almost 900 acres, and putting further stress on an estuary that has already lost more than 70% of its natural habitat. Today, with the release of the video, scientists from Raincoast are calling on North Vancouver’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Jonathan Wilkinson, to reject the Port’s application and support investments to restore the Fraser estuary and its endangered species. 

As a nursery and feeding ground, the Fraser estuary connects a food web that links fish, birds and marine mammals across thousands of kilometres of the North Pacific Ocean. The estuary is a migration corridor and the rearing grounds for Canada’s largest salmon runs. Fraser Chinook salmon that rely on the estuary are essential food for endangered Southern Resident killer whales.  

For birds, the estuary is of global importance – serving as a crucial stopover on migration routes stretching from South America to the high Arctic – this includes nearly all of the world’s population of Western Sandpipers.

Raincoast biologist and Lower Fraser Research and Restoration Coordinator David Scott assessed the project’s impacts on juvenile salmon and concluded that “in addition to direct habitat loss from the increased footprint of the terminal, the expansion would further interrupt natural migration pathways between critical estuary habitats.” 

In addition to food supply, the waters adjacent to the Fraser estuary are critical habitat for the Southern Residents. As Raincoast has previously demonstrated in published research and argued in the courts, increased noise in the Salish Sea threatens the recovery of these whales. The federal assessment panel concluded that Terminal 2 expansion would have “significant and adverse cumulative effects” on endangered Southern Residents.

“There are substantial efforts and investments being made to protect and restore the Fraser River estuary, including those by Raincoast,” said Wild Salmon Program Director Misty MacDuffee.  “Now is not the time to undermine these collaborative efforts to restore Chinook salmon, Southern Resident killer whales and hundreds of other species that rely on estuary.”

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