GAFA glass both half full and half empty

Gabriolans Against Freighter Anchorages

Press Release

Tuesday, January 9 2018

According to the group leading the fight to prevent new deep-sea anchorages off the Northeast coast of Gabriola, the start of 2018 brings both good news and bad news. “The good news,” says Chris Straw, President of Gabriolans Against Freighter Anchorages, “is that we now have a promise from the Transport Canada that no new anchorages will be designated until a full review of commercial shipping activity, including anchoring outside of federal ports, has been completed. The bad news is the fight is far from over and, to top it off, we’ve started 2018 with several huge freighters anchoring off the Southwest side of Gabriola.”

The National Anchorages Initiative was announced last fall as part of the Federal Government’s Oceans Protection Plan. According to Transport Canada documents, it “will bring governments, marine industry, Indigenous groups, community organizations and stakeholders together to develop a process to identify anchorages; analyze and respond to environmental, economic and cultural concerns now and over the long term; draft a “best practices at anchor” manual; and recommend oversight/management options for these anchorages.”

The review is expected to take at least 12 to 18 months according to Transport Canada officials. 

For those working the front lines to keep on top of this issue, the timeline is a mixed blessing.

“When this campaign started more than two and a half years ago, we knew it could be a long battle,” says Straw. “In some ways, the longer it goes on, we can at least enjoy the fact that no new anchorages have been created. 

“But the real goal is to push for solutions that see Port of Vancouver’s logistical problems solved in a way that doesn’t impact marine life and communities on this side of the Salish Sea, in the legislatively protected Southern Gulf Islands.”

GAFA and other community groups throughout the South Coast are pushing back on the notion that so many anchorages are needed. 

They are pressing for the review to include a comprehensive look at the entire land and marine supply chain to sort out bottle necks and reduce the need for so much overflow anchoring outside the Port of Vancouver.

“We all understand the important role shipping plays in the Canadian economy,” Straw adds, “but having ships sitting idle at anchorages so far from the port, for weeks at a time, isn’t providing economic value to anyone. The same amount of goods flows in and out.  It’s the definition of inefficiency and it creates all sorts of negative impacts on communities like ours.”

Formal meetings with Transport Canada and other agencies are being scheduled over the next few months. 

In the meantime, GAFA invites anyone interested in this issue to a town hall presentation and discussion on Saturday, January 20 from 3 to 5pm at The Haven’s Phoenix Auditorium.

For more information contact gafasociety@gmail.com or visit GAFA.CA