We are advocates for the best marine-related practices for Victoria Harbour. We recognize that our properties and operations are within the Victoria Harbour Bird Sanctuary, the oldest Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) on the west coast of Canada. This productive coastal-marine environment provides important habitats for an impressive diversity of wildlife, including the northern abalone and southern resident killer whales, which are Federally-listed as endangered species.
A long history of industry and development in Victoria Harbour has permanently altered its physical geography and contaminated its waters and sediments. The identification of Victoria Harbour as one of the most polluted zones on the BC coast has helped mobilize resources towards its remediation. Recently, various vested groups have made a significant effort in the deindustrialization, cleanup, and ecological restoration of the Victoria Harbour. Marked improvements to water and sediment quality have begun to contribute to better ecosystem health and a notable return of wildlife. In 2017, Victoria Harbour was recognized for its incredible and accessible urban nature, and was designated as a part of the Greater Victoria Naturehood.
An example of the incredible resiliency of nature can be best observed at the Ogden Point Breakwater. This historic infrastructure project has increased the benthic structural complexity and, over the past century, been colonized by a high diversity of ocean life. Today, the area is well-known as a premier destination for nature lovers in Victoria. Onlookers on occasion can view rare and notable birds while divers view a diverse showcase of marine species that live along the creviced breakwater. Our organization is committed to maintaining the structural integrity of this landmark, facilitating safe access for a diverse range of user groups.
The ecological potential for a healthy working harbour has only begun to be realized. We are actively pursuing future opportunities to be responsible stewards in the Victoria Harbour MBS and will continue to collaborate with our partners on environmental initiatives to this end.
Green Marine is the premier environmental certification program for North America’s maritime industry. The voluntary program helps port managers surpass basic regulatory requirements and become leaders in managing their port operation’s environmental impacts.
We currently have a ranking of 3.7 out of 5 by Green Marine, an increase over our previous 2018 score of 3.3 and one that places the deep-water port among the most environmentally sustainable ports in North America.
Green Marine certification results are compiled on a scale of 1 to 5, where one illustrates the monitoring of regulations and five illustrates excellence and leadership. The average score for participating ports, across all applicable areas during the 2019 reporting year, was 2.8.
The increase in score from 2018 to 2019 is largely due to increased scoring in the ‘Environmental Leadership’ category, which rose from a 3 to a 5. Gains were also made in the newly introduced category of ‘Underwater Noise’ with the organization’s efforts in working with the Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery Communications Committee and Ocean Networks Canada to better understand the local impacts and help to implement solutions around this poorly understood pollution source.
We will continue to work with our partners and community towards continued improvement across environmental categories in 2020. Our latest project is the feasibility study and business case for shore power at the Victoria Cruise Terminal at The Breakwater District; results are expected by fall 2020.
Clean Marine BC is a voluntary environmental assessment program for marinas and harbour authorities offered by the Georgia Strait Alliance BC.
Our marinas are audited by an independent organization every three years on best practices for fuel and energy use, drainage, water quality, condition of the grounds, water conservation, and waste management methods. Based on our 2018 accreditation, our marinas received the highest possible rating of 5 anchors, placing our marinas among a small group of environmentally-leading facilities.
Part of this 5-anchor marina rating was earned by working closely with our hired contractors, tenants, visitors, and community members around issues of water quality and waste management. Our water quality management is focused on pollution prevention that targets both point and non-point source pollution. We also ensure our staff are trained in spill response and maintains available spill kits across our marinas. We communicate and enforce Transport Canada requirements on marine sewage discharge at our marinas and facilitate responsible pump-outs through mobile and static pump-out services.
We continue to green our supply chain while modernizing our docks and mooring systems to be conducive to long life cycles with minimal environmental impacts.
Our port and marina facilities host millions of visitors and residents annually. Many of our properties are interfaces for people to connect and view wildlife. We advocate that this be done in the harbour and bird sanctuary safely and respectfully.
We require that visitors follow current Federal and Provincial laws and regulations that protect wildlife such as the Species At Risk Act, Fisheries Act, and Marine Mammal Regulations. We ask that you:
- ‘Be Whale Wise’ and maintain a minimum 400-metre distance in your vessel from all killer whales in Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) habitat in Canadian waters.
- Observe and avoid boating or fishing in all Interim SRKW Sanctuary Zones, visit Be Whale Wise for current information (includes motorized and non-motorized vessels).
- Shut-off sonar and fish finding equipment when not in use.
- Do not feed, touch, or harass any wildlife.
- Please keep your distance and do not attempt to rescue lone seal pups, their mothers are likely out foraging and interference is prohibited.
- Report sick, injured, or harassed wildlife and marine mammals.
We support and promote initiatives around wildlife education and outreach including organizing World Oceans Day at Fisherman’s Wharf with our partner Eagle Wing Whale & Wildlife Tours. We are also active members of the SRKW Education and Outreach committee and are working with stakeholders to effectively communicate strategies that attempt to mitigate impacts to marine mammals such as the SRKW’s and their habitats.
Please keep all dogs on a leash while on our property. Be mindful of sensitive shorebird habitats within the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
Environmental Reporting Lines:
- Emergency Management BC: 1.800.663.3456
- Report All Polluters and Poachers (RAPP): 1.877.952.7277
- Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) Observe, Record, Report line: 1.800.465.4336
- Fisheries and Fish Habitat Protection Program (DFO): 1.866.845.6776
- Migratory Bird Sanctuary Violations (Federal Wildlife Officer): 1.888.569.5656