Check out our Infographic! 25 Projects in the Salish Sea Threaten Southern Resident Orcas

Friends of the San Juans just released an updated Salish Sea Vessel Traffic Projections infographic that identifies an additional 2,116 ocean going vessels making 4,232 transits to and from ports in British Columbia and Washington State from 25 new or expanding proposals.

Vessel traffic from ocean-going oil tankers, container ships, bulk cargo carriers, and liquefied natural gas carriers could increase 35% according to new information.

All these projects have one thing in common; increased air and noise pollution that could affect the Southern Resident orcas ability to communicate, socialize and successfully hunt for scarce prey. More disturbance means these starving animals will work harder to catch food, further depleting their reserves and releasing toxins in their bodies. A major oil spill from propulsion fuel from any one of these vessels could cause the Southern Residents’ extinction and impact our economy.

Friends has been monitoring new and expanding terminal and refinery projects throughout the Salish Sea for five years; sharing these vessel traffic projections at transboundary forums and conferences, and informing the public and decision-makers about the need for more cumulative impact analyses to address the necessary protection of our water, wildlife, and coastal communities.

The Salish Sea Vessel Traffic Projection infographic was included in recent testimony by Friends in Victoria, BC, to the Commission of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency regarding the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 and to the U.S. Federal Government regarding the Navy’s Draft Northwest Training and Testing Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement.

In 2018 there were 12,120 large, commercial ocean-going vessel transits in the Salish Sea. These vessel transits don’t include local barge traffic, anchoring, cueing, and/or bunkering (ship fueling) transits; or the many ferry boat transits, and the pleasure, fishing, and small commercial boats that share these transboundary waterways. 91% of the projected commercial vessel traffic is destined for Canada.

Approval of the Canadian Federal Government’s Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion will increase tanker traffic exporting tar sands diluted bitumen, increasing the likelihood of a 660,450 gallon or larger spill over the next ten years in Haro Strait and Boundary Pass by 800%.

A majority of these projects are in Canada. We can’t look at these project applications alone. Their cumulative impacts of underwater noise, air pollution and oil spill risk threaten our economy, environment and culture of the Salish Sea.

Click here to see the infographic and more information.

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San Juan County is at the center of existing and proposed fossil fuel export projects. We have much to lose and nothing to gain. Our community needs to stay informed, get involved, and be part of the public process of understanding the approaching changes which will affect us all.

San Olson

member, Lopez Island