In this Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, photo an orca, known as J35, foreground, swims with other orcas near Friday Harbor, Alaska. (Center for Whale Research via AP)

New monitoring of vessel noise impact on endangered whales announced

Federal government to monitor underwater ship and mammal noise in B.C.’s Salish Sea

The federal government says it will monitor underwater ship and mammal noise in British Columbia’s Salish Sea to help develop measures to support the recovery of endangered southern resident killer whales.

Terry Beech, parliamentary secretary to the transportation minister, announced the measures as his government is set to face new scrutiny of the impacts of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on the threatened species.

A court ruling found the National Energy Board failed to assess the pipeline project’s effects on the marine environment and the government has asked the board to reconsider that part of the review by Feb. 22.

The project would increase tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet seven-fold and whale experts argue there is already too much traffic for the 74-member southern resident whale population to survive.

READ MORE: Conservation groups sue Ottawa to protect endangered killer whales

Beech says Transport Canada will spend $1.6 million on measures including deploying an underwater hydrophone, or listening device, at Boundary Pass in the Salish Sea.

He also says the department will carry out a four-year project to better predict propeller noise and hull vibration of a vessel.

The Canadian Press

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