Protecting orcas and salmon from the Terminal 2 expansion

Photo courtesy of Wilderness Committee
Program area – Nature Status: In progress
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Ecojustice is calling on the Minister of Environment and Climate Change not to approve the proposed Terminal 2 expansion.

Located at the mouth of British Columbia’s Fraser River, the shipping terminal project proposed by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority poses a threat to endangered killer whales, wild salmon, and other wildlife that rely on the Fraser estuary.

In 2019, Ecojustice represented the David Suzuki Foundation, Georgia Straight Alliance, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, and Wilderness Committee at a federal review panel hearing on the project. Ecojustice’s clients expressed concern about noise from vessel traffic associated with the expansion, marine pollution, threats to wild salmon and their rearing habitat, and threats to the other 119 species that call the Salish Sea home.

As a result, the federal review panel concluded that the expansion would have “numerous” adverse effects on the environment, including “significant adverse effects on Chinook salmon” and “significant adverse and cumulative effects on Southern Resident killer whales.”

The decision on whether to greenlight despite these impacts now lies in the hands of Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson.

If built, the Terminal 2 Project would cause significant harm to the environment and threaten precarious salmon populations and endangered killer whales.

The expansion threatens to disrupt Chinook salmon migration patterns and force young salmon into the open ocean before they are strong enough to survive there. This, in turn, could harm predators up the food chain. Any decline in Chinook jeopardizes the future of Southern Resident killer whales, which rely almost exclusively on Chinook for prey.

According to the federal panel’s final report, other impacts from the project would include greater underwater noise, which interferes with the orcas’ ability to hunt and communicate, and loss of critical Southern Resident habitat.

What would a win mean?

If Ecojustice and its clients are successful, the Minister will recognize the significance of Terminal 2’s adverse impacts and will not approve the project.

In that event, the decision for approving the project will fall to Cabinet, who will have the final say on whether or not to allow the expansion to proceed.

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