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Anchorage Concerns

Anchorages are generally used by ships needing shelter while waiting for a berth at a nearby port to become available. Ships at anchor need to run generators and have lights on to sustain daily life on the ship and to keep the ship safe. At times, the resulting noise and lights disrupt the tranquility of life for island residents.

Anchorages in the Islands Trust Area include Plumper Sound, Cowichan Bay, Houston Passage, and Trincomali Channel.

If you have concerns regarding noise, light or dust from ships at anchor please report them to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Operations Centre at If you see an oil or chemical spill call 1-800-663-3456.

If you have any comments on Transport Canada's current Interim Anchorages Protocol, please contact Your feedback will help inform the National Anchorages Initiative under Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan.

Any observations about apparent illegal fishing can be reported to Department of Fisheries and Oceans - Observe, Record, Report (ORR) at 1-800-465-4336

Islands Trust advocacy history

Working with affected residents, the Islands Trust Council has encouraged actions to minimize noise and light pollution in anchorages. This work supports the Islands Trust Policy Statement policy 5.1.2 which states: the intensity of noise and lighting in and through the Trust Area should be compatible with community character. The Islands Trust has also raised concern about ships drifting close to land during storms, putting the vessel and surrounding ecosystems at risk, as happened three times in the Plumper Sound anchorage between 2009 and 2011.

On September 24, the Islands Trust Council called on the federal government to work towards eliminating the use of 33 commercial freighter anchorages throughout the Southern Gulf Islands, an area Transport Canada refers to as the South Coast of British Columbia. A statement from the Chair outlining the Islands Trust's position was sent to the Prime Minister and other elected officials.  A response was received October 10, 2018 from the office of the Prime Minister.

On September 13, 2018, the Islands Trust Chair wrote to the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport Canada re Concerns re Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern BC Anchorages - communications and processes.

On July 26, 2018, the Islands Trust Chair wrote to the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport Canada, to request an extension to the Interim Anchorages Protocol. Transport Canada responded on August 13, 2018. The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, responded on August 21, 2018.

On April 24, 2018, the Chair spoke with Robert Manning-Lewis, President of the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, to discuss anchorage and shipping safety issues.

On March 20, 2018 the Islands Trust Chair wrote to the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport Canada, to thank him for the February meeting with Islands Trust and to follow-up on anchorages. The Minister responded on May 9, 2018.

On March 20-21, 2018 the Chair and staff attended Transport Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan South Coast Dialogue Forum. As a side meeting, the Chair and staff met with representatives from the Shipping Federation of Canada to discuss anchorage management and railway supply chain issues.

February 16, 2018, the Islands Trust Chair welcomed the announcement of Transport Canada’s Interim Anchorages Protocol, although expressed disappointment that industrial transfers in Plumper Sound were to continue.

On February 15, the Islands Trust Chair met with Transport Canada staff in Vancouver to discuss implementation of an interim protocol for anchorages in the southern Gulf Islands.

On February 13, the Islands Trust Chair met with the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport to discuss Islands Trust’s concerns with freighter anchorages.

While in Ottawa, the Islands Trust Chair also took the opportunity to discuss anchorage issues with:

  • MP Kelly Block, Transport Critic for the Conservative Party,
  • MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones
  • MP Sheila Malcolmson
  • MP Elizabeth May
  • Senior Transport Canada staff

On February 8, 2018, Transport Canada responded to the concerns of Islands Trust and island communities by implementing an Interim Anchorages Protocol.

On February 6, 2018, the Islands Trust Chair and staff met in Victoria with Robert Manning-Lewis, President of the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, to discuss anchorage and shipping safety issues.

On December 14, 2017, the Islands Trust Chair wrote to Vija Poruks at Transport Canada to provide comment on the Interim Anchorages Protocol for Anchorages in the South Coast of B.C. 

On December 6, 2017, the Islands Trust Council hosted a presentation from Transport Canada staff about the federal Ocean Protection Plan and anchorage management. 

On November 2, 2017, the Islands Trust Chair and staff attended a Transport Canada Oceans Protection Plan South Coast Dialogue Forum in Vancouver.

In June 2016, at the request of the Islands Trust Council the Chair wrote to the Prime Minister of Canada to express the Islands Trust Council's opposition to the proposal to establish new freighter anchorages off the northeast coast of Gabriola Island and ask for a moratorium on any new freighter anchorages within the waters surrounding the Islands Trust Area until Transport Canada has:

  1. assessed the cumulative risk and impacts associated with projected vessel traffic increases in the Salish Sea;
  2. developed a 20-year mitigation plan that includes measures to minimize anchorage use; and
  3. implemented a process for comprehensive environmental, social and economic impact assessment prior to the establishment of any new anchorages. 

On September 29, 2016, the Minister of Transport responded.

The Chair also wrote to the Minister of Transport encouraging Transport Canada to engage in full community consultation and a detailed public analysis of the potential implications of extending the jurisdiction of the Nanaimo Port Authority, with a particular focus on compatibility with the Object of the Islands Trust to preserve and protect the waters of the Salish Sea.

On April 9, 2016 the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities endorsed the Islands Trust resolution asking Transport Canada to assess the cumulative impacts of the projected increased vessel traffic in the Salish Sea and develop a 20-year mitigation plan.

On March 30, 2016, Chair Luckham wrote to Pacific Pilotage Authority regarding the timing of the planned public meeting about the proposed Gabriola Island anchorages.

On December 18, 2015, Chair Luckham wrote to the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, to request the Minister investigate what measures Transport Canada and industry can take to minimize anchorage use in the Southern Gulf Islands, and to decrease the risks from any vessels that continue to use these anchorages. The Minister replied on June 6.

On November 4, 2015, the Islands Trust hosted a stakeholder meeting about the Plumper Sound, Cowichan Bay and proposed Gabriola anchorages to promote dialogue and increased understanding of the issues.

In September 2015, the Islands Trust Council voted to encourage the Executive Committee to identify and act upon appropriate opportunities for advocacy with respect to impacts of increased freighter anchorages in the Trust Area. Over the next three years, the Islands Trust Council will be implementing its adopted 2014-2018 Strategic Plan which commits the Islands Trust to “advocate to reduce impacts of freighter anchorage activities” and “assist with community meetings about additional anchorages near Gabriola Island and Plumper Sound.”

On July 15, 2015, the Islands Trust Executive Committee decided to accept an invitation from the Pacific Pilotage Authority to assist with, and participate in, consultation with affected residents of Gabriola Island and Plumper Sound regarding proposed and existing anchorages.

In February 2015, Islands Trust representatives attended a meeting hosted by MP Elizabeth May about use of the Plumper Sound anchorage.

In 2011, the Chair sent a letter to the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia and the Pacific Pilotage Authority to convey continuing concerns about Plumper Sound anchorage. The Chair also wrote to the Port Metro Vancouver and Transport Canada with a request for consultation on anchorages and the Container Capacity Improvement Program. (Response - Port Metro Vancouver ) (Response - Transport Canada). The Chair also raised anchorage issues in a letter to Port Metro Vancouver regarding the need for assessments of Deltaport Terminal, Road and Rail Improvement Project to consider waterways and communities of the Salish Sea.

In 2010, the Chair sent a letter to the federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities expressing concerns re shipping and anchoring in the Gulf Islands and Plumper Sound. In March 2010, the Minister responded and stated that his department would issue a strong advisory to ship masters and agents regarding the anchoring of vessels in the designated anchorages within Plumper Sound during winter months.

The Pacific Pilotage Authority and the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia have also responded to local concerns about noise and light disruptions from the Plumper Sound anchorage with a memo to the masters of vessels using Plumper Sound anchorages.

Anchorage information:

Pacific Pilotage Authority’s August 2015 request for proposals for environmental assessment of proposed Gabriola anchorages.

Pacific Pilotage Authority’s May 21, 2015 Notice to Shipping about amended anchor locations for Cowichan Bay, Ladysmith & Plumper Sound

Real-time information on ships

Current and future pilotage assignments

Map of existing and proposed anchorages in the Salish Sea/Georgia Strait


Plumper Sound

View of Plumper Sound anchorage from MV Balchen Feb 2015. Credit: Derek Masselink

Page last updated: 11/10/18
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