This week the Canadian delegation to the International Maritime Organization's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) had two opportunities to put concerns on vessel radiated underwater noise on the international stage. Carrie Brown, Director Environmental Programs of Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, provided an information session to IMO delegates of the work underway on the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) program to better understand the impact of underwater shipping noise on the Southern Resident Killer Whales. Canada then took the stage the following day when Michelle Sanders, Director of Clean Water Policy Division of Transport Canada (pictured centre), presented paper MEPC 71/16/5 entitled,"Collaboration to reduce underwater noise from marine shipping," under other business. Canada is inviting countries to collaborate to develop a better understand of ship noise and its impact on marine mammals and to identify measures to mitigate any adverse impacts, thus building on the previous work of the Committee and Members States as outlined in the guidelines issued in MEPC.1/Circ. 833. Both presentations were well received and sparked renewed interest on the subject with several Member States and organizations expressing an intent to collaborate. Coincidentally, an article on the ECHO Program and the voluntary speed reduction trial in Haro Strait starting this summer was featured in the Vancouver Sun on July 6th.
Canada also co-sponsored MEPC 71/14/4 paper, entitled "Measures to reduce risk of use and carriage of heavy fuel oil as fuel by ships in Arctic waters," along with Finland, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway and the United States for a new output in the Committee's work programme to develop measures to reduce risk of use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) as fuel by ships in Arctic waters. This was generally supported and the PPR 5 Sub-Committe was tasked with identifying the scope work to be assigned to PPR 6 at the next MEPC 72.