On September 24, 2018 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.

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

tug boat and cargo ships in an ocean bay

Use of the Southern Gulf Islands region for commercial vessel anchorages is occurring because of a lack of investment, insufficient port infrastructure, and long-standing supply chain inefficiencies.

Transport Canada has also permitted the industrial transfer of gypsum from large ships to barges in Plumper Sound. This type of industrial activity is not appropriate within this region and should be done within the boundaries of a port.

Key Concerns

  • There has been a lack of prior consultation with First Nations and coastal communities and a lack of environmental assessments.
  • The significant amounts of unnecessary noise, light, and air pollution generated by these ships while at anchor.
  • The risks these vessels pose to the marine environment and the risk of oil spills.


If you have concerns regarding noise, light, or dust from ships at anchor, please report them to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Operations Centre through their online form.

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.

Report observations on apparent illegal fishing to the 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.

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.

Learn more about our advocacy work.