The National Energy Board (NEB) is requiring the Trans Mountain pipeline builder create a marine mammal protection program – among other requirements – before it can green-light the project.
The independent regulator had conducted a review of the pipeline project, applying the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Species at Risk Act in the hopes of making project-related marine shipping safer for the environment.
While the board will submit its final recommendations by February 22, it has already made a number of suggestions to reduce the effects of underwater noise and possible collisions between ships and marine mammals, such as killer whales.
NEB is calling for Trans Mountain’s marine protection plan to be implemented three months before it starts operations. The corporation is also being asked to describe how it would incorporate indigenous traditions and knowledge in creating the protection programs.
CTV News reported that the board is planning to limit the number of whale watching boats and the amount of time they can spend on the water. NEB is also recommending that greenhouse gas reduction measures related to marine shipping should be pushed for.
Fisheries minister Jonathan Wilkinson commented on the recommendations, saying that the conditions are an “important step towards meeting the reasonable timeline that we provided, and the type of progress that Canadians expect to see.”
“The National Energy Board is an independent regulator and is responsible for overseeing the review on marine shipping,” Wilkinson added. “We will carefully review them and provide comment, as necessary.”
Trans Mountain has also confirmed that it has seen the draft recommendations.
“We will be providing further comments to the National Energy Board within the timeframe established by the board,” the company said in a statement.