Policy Positions

Chamber of Shipping > Advocacy > Policy Positions


The Chamber of Shipping Board of Directors has adopted the following policy positions to help guide the development of reasonable policies that support a safe, efficient, and competitive operating marine environment that serves the interests of Canadian producers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers while balancing the concerns raised by communities, Indigenous groups, and environmental organizations.


As Canada is a diverse and major exporter of goods to the Asia Pacific that is largely dependent on a multifaceted supply chain, anchorages provide vessels with a safe location to wait for an available berth to discharge and/or load cargo. Anchorages are essential to supporting Canada’s diverse trade objectives and managing supply chain fluidity.

In 2018, the Interim Protocol for anchorages in Southern B.C. was launched. Since then, significant data has been collected to inform the development of a National Anchorage Strategy. While the deliberate shared distribution of vessels throughout the available anchorages in the Southern Gulf Islands has lessened the impact on certain communities, others that had previously seen little anchorage use are now voicing their opposition to local anchorages. The Government of Canada has acknowledged the importance of anchorages for the export of bulk commodities and is now focusing its attention on addressing supply chain fluidity. The commitment and active participation of ships’ agents in reducing noise and light disturbance has been paramount to the success of the interim measures.

Greenhouse Gas Reductions

International shipping is committed to reducing GHG emissions by at least 50 percent of what levels were in 2008, by 2050. Collaboration of ports to expedite the adoption of short and mid-term candidate measures through incentives is encouraged. Measures include an energy efficiency framework, fleet optimization, and alternate fuels.

The International Marine Organization (IMO) has developed a global strategy to cut greenhouse gas emissions produced by the shipping industry by at least 50 percent of what levels were in 2008 by 2050, while simultaneously pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely. The path to such reduction levels remains unclear and will require a technology revolution. This has been layered onto the 2020 deadline, when ships must meet strict MARPOL Convention Annex VI requirements for low-sulphur fuel oil or fit scrubbers.

In addition, the incentive and recognition programs developed by ports to encourage supply chain partners to exceed regulatory requirements continue to be effective. Both Vancouver and Prince Rupert have reported good uptake in their respective programs by ocean carriers and port tenants. In Vancouver, three container vessels have now successfully connected to shore. Using incentive programs to promote early adoption is still the preferred strategy for achieving GHG reduction targets.

While we face significant challenges in reducing GHG emissions, we believe that through investing in research and new technologies, the marine transportation industry achieve the set goals.

Infrastructure and Supply Chain

Infrastructure that is both planned and coordinated is crucial to managing the increase in Canadian trade to markets overseas as well as within North America.

There is a clear need in Canada to have all supply chain partners engaged to improve performance. Transport Canada has sought to address current challenges and bottlenecks through the Collaborative Forward Planning initiative. Key input focused on communications, forecasting and planning, contingency planning, and growth opportunities. The second phase of the initiative will seek collaboration on resolving interdependent challenges and improving communications.

The Port of Vancouver and Transport Canada have implemented the first phase of a Supply Chain Visibility tool and have begun planning for the second phase of the initiative as well. The tool currently focuses on coal, grain and potash movements, capturing data from nine marine terminals, two railways, and the B.C. Maritime Employers Association. The future state of the tool is expected to test predictive analytics for all commodities and lead to better planning of berth utilization, vessel arrivals, and anchorage requirements.

On the infrastructure front, the $2-billion National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF) helps fund infrastructure projects in Canada, including projects related to airports, ports, rail yards, transportation facilities and access roads. In 2018, the Federal Government announced over $200-million in funding for six projects to support the movement of goods to and from the Port of Vancouver and support Canada’s competitive position in international trade. Investments have also been made in Prince Rupert and Nanaimo. Infrastructure planning should also include data and management systems, and marine infrastructure to support the berthing of larger ships.

Marine Conservation

The health and sustainability of our oceans is paramount and Canada’s efforts to protect more of its oceans is supported through the development of marine protected areas and national marine conservation areas. It is important that Canada be strategic and take a holistic approach to the management of our coasts and waterways through marine spatial planning. The clear identification of the shipping lanes and operational conditions under which ships can operate is essential to protecting Canada’s international trade corridors while also minimizing the impact on marine ecosystems and communities.

Throughout 2018, the Canadian Government continued to progress a significant effort to meet its 2020 objectives of protecting 10 percent of Canada’s coastal waters, as required by the Convention on Biological Diversity. In B.C., this included the establishment of the Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area, Marine Protected Area Networks planning, and the Offshore Area of Interest west of Vancouver Island.

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) entered into force in September 2017. At the next session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee, parties to the BWM Convention are to agree on the terms for an experience-building phase. This phase is when Port State Authorities could feasibly conduct sampling and collect data, while avoiding taking punitive action against ship owners who have exceeded the discharge standard but have operated and maintained a treatment system appropriately.

We understand the upcoming challenges of developing Canadian domestic regulations and harmonizing them with the United States while aiming to work with all involved parties to find proactive, sustainable solutions that work for everyone.


The regulatory process to modernize the Pilotage Act commenced with amendments passed in the Budget Implementation Act, Bill C-97, in June 2019. The need to inject good governance, operating standards, and core competencies within Transport Canada and the pilotage authorities is necessary to deliver an improved safety framework that is innovative, transparent, and efficient.

Risk Assessment

Evaluating risk and understanding the potential consequences is imperative to developing good policies, especially when precautionary principles are enshrined in legislation. The precautionary principle allows for a wide degree of risk tolerance and often results in mitigation measures that are inconsistent and excessive. The Government of Canada must be consistent in what it deems as an acceptable risk. When precautionary measures are taken, they must be benchmarked and evaluated on a regular basis for their effectiveness and adjusted when appropriate.

Species at Risk

Canada has an obligation under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to take decisive action to provide support for the recovery of wildlife that are endangered or threatened as a result of human activity. Voluntary measures are a preferred way to assess the practicality of new mitigation measures aimed at reducing shipping impacts, particularly in shared waters. Collaboration supported by science has proven to be an excellent way of identifying innovative measures that are meaningful and effective.

The Salish Sea is home to many species at risk, yet it is also a vital transit route for marine transportation calling to port in B.C.. The government and marine transportation have come together in recent years to ensure protection for the species at risk who call the area home.

Specifically, the plight of the Southern Resident Killer Whale became highly politicized in 2018. The
Government of Canada was sued by a coalition of Conservation Organizations for not declaring an Emergency Protection Order as required under the Species at Risk Act. The Chamber intervened in the lawsuit, which was quickly dismissed by a Federal court. In the State of Washington, the Governor launched a Task Force while also opposing the Trans Mountain Expansion Project; a move that frequently had the support of a new Provincial Government in B.C..

In Canada, the Federal Government largely remained focused on its long-term recovery strategy, including the implementation of pragmatic voluntary measures by the commercial marine industry. This was largely due to the significant success of the industry trialling measures in 2017 and implementing voluntary measures in 2018 through the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program.

In addition to the ECHO program, the Chamber of Shipping, together with other associations, is working with the Port of Vancouver, Transport Canada, Pacific Pilotage Authority, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard have established a Conservation Agreement that outlines each party’s commitments over the next five years. The commitment involves implementing further protective measures, as well as solidifying commitments by the Government of Canada to remove barriers to participation and competitiveness.