Starting May 1, Transport Canada will be contacting ship operators directly if they sail through the Voluntary Protection Zone (VPZ) extending west of Haida Gwaii. During the trial, commercial vessels greater than 500 gross tonnage are asked to transit a minimum distance of 50 nautical miles from the west coast of Haida Gwaii, with the following exceptions:
- Cruise vessels are asked to observe a minimum 12 nm distance from shore;
- Vessels transiting between Pacific Northwest ports (Washington, BC and Alaska) are asked to observe a minimum 25 nm distance from shore;
- Tugs and barges (including pushing and towing alongside), no minimum distance; and
- Fishing vessels, no minimum distance.
Observing the VPZ is voluntary and only when it does not jeopardize the safety of navigation, the vessel, the persons aboard, and the cargo. Transport Canada Ship Safety Bulleting #26/2020 and the the Canadian Coast Guard’s monthly Notice to Mariner – Western Edition include additional details.