Alistair MacGregor / Freighter around Thetis Island BC

New bill would prohibit freighters from anchoring around Vancouver Island

Alistair MacGregor, MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, has put forth a bill to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 to prohibit the anchoring of freighter vessels using coastal waters along the Southern Strait of Georgia.

“In the absence of leadership from the federal government, I have decided that it is time put forward a bill to try and resolve this issue through legislative means.”

MP Alistair MacGregor

The waters in the southern Strait of Georgia are recognized as worth protecting by the federal government as a part of its process in establishing a National Marine Conservation Area. So why is this same area still being used as an overflow industrial parking lot?

Local stakeholders including First Nations, local government, and community activist groups support this bill.

“These freighters sometimes drag their anchor, disturbing our seabeds and harvesting areas. They have their lights on all night and make noise. They take away the beauty of our beaches. They harvest illegally and pollute our waters, and their proximity to our reserve lands makes our nation fearful of trespassers. We were never consulted on this and don’t support the freighters being in our waters.”

Lyackson First Nation Chief Richard Thomas

The Penelakut Tribe also endorse Alistair MacGregor’s proposed changes to the Canada Shipping Act 2001 to prohibit the anchoring of freighter vessels in the Southern Gulf Islands.

As Penelakut Tribe Chief Joan Brown explains,

“Both our current way of life and our future way of life are being destroyed by the Federal Government turning our traditional waterways into ocean freighter parking lots. Over the last few years, volumes of freighters parking in our traditional waters has grown astronomically and continues to grow. As the volume of freighters parking in our waters has grown, we have experienced drastic declines in our traditional seafoods. We are experiencing invasive species on our beaches and waterways which are a direct result of freighter parking. Dialogue with DFO has confirmed that the pumping of ballast tanks, pumping of bilges, dragging of anchors, dumping of garbage and waste, and continuous noise from generators have combined to seriously threaten our livelihoods and traditional ways of life. Of further concern is the lack of monitoring and implementation of safety response measures surrounding these freighters.”

“Aboriginal peoples have the Constitutional Right to be consulted on changes which may impact their well-being or way of life. The Federal Government have the lawful obligation to consult with us prior to permitting freighter parking in our traditional waters. Penelakut Tribe have had absolutely no consultation from the Federal Government in spite of letters sent to the Prime Minister and Alistair MacGregor putting our issues in front of The House of Commons.”

We hope the MP’s efforts will be successful! Of course, Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau could ban freighter from anchoring in the Southern Gulf Islands right now. Have you sent the letter from our website telling Garneau to take action?

At the provinical level, BC NDP candidates recently announce five-point plan to reduce anchorages, and made promises about what a re-elected John Horgan government would do. We can make the most of this momentum, but we will need your support. Please see the ways you can help. We will continue to make sure your donations go a long way.