The Salish Sea is home to over 8 million people and is one of the world’s largest and most biologically rich inland seas. In 2018 there were 12,120 large, commercial ocean-going vessel transits in the Salish Sea. These vessel transits do not include local barge traffic, anchoring, cueing, and/or bunkering (ship fueling) transits or the many ferry boat transits. Nor does it include the pleasure, fishing, and small commercial boats that share these transboundary waterways.
This existing commercial vessel traffic causes noise impacts and oil spill risk, threatening the shores of our communities and the fragile marine waters that are home to 119 threatened and endangered species, including Southern Resident Killer Whales.
The Salish Sea Vessel Traffic Projections infographic identifies 25 new or expanding proposed, permitted or recently completed terminal and refinery projects that would add at least 4,232 annual vessel transits to and from ports in British Columbia and Washington State. If all proposed new and expanding terminal and refinery projects are permitted and developed, this would result in at least a 35 percent increase in large, ocean-going commercial vessel traffic. In addition, the increase in vessel traffic from several new and expanding terminal and refinery projects in Washington State has not yet been identified. This increase in vessel traffic will increase vessel noise and disturbance impacts to the Southern Residents and other marine species, and will increase oil spill risk in the Salish Sea. If the Southern Residents are in the vicinity of a major oil spill it could cause their extinction.