British Columbia currently enjoys some of the lowest density of marine traffic in the world. Taking the Juan de Fuca Strait as an example, if we were to have one vessel in each direction, each hour of every day, that would amount to around 17,500 transits per year. The actual number is less than 11,000 transits by ocean going vessels with equally light tug and barge, ferry, fishing and recreational traffic. As an additional safety measure, traffic in the Juan de Fuca Strait is separated into east and west bound traffic separation lanes.
- Carries 25% of world seaborne trade
- 600 commercial vessels in transit or crossing daily
- 40m tons of heavy fuel oil in transit per annum
Note: The port of Rotterdam handles around 36,000 ships a year compared to 3,000 in Canada’s busiest port, Vancouver. Rotterdam is also Europe’s foremost tanker port.
Strait of Malacca
A stretch of water, approximately 500 nautical miles long, between the coastlines of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore
- Annual traffic 64,000 ships which includes:
- 21,000 container ships
- 23,000 tankers
At least 15 million barrels per day (2.1 million tons) of oil, equivalent to seven Very large Crude Carriers (VLCC) flows through the Strait Malacca from the Middle East Gulf and West Africa.
At its narrowest point in the Phillips Channel of the Singapore Strait, the Malacca Strait is only 1.7 miles (2.7 km) wide, creating a challenging natural bottleneck for shipping.
Bosphorus (also known as Istanbul Strait)
- Annual traffic 50,000 ships
- Includes 8,000 tankers
Of interest, it is worth comparing the narrowest point of transit through the Bosphorus to an often quoted narrow point on the coast of BC (1 nautical mile = 1,852 meters). As depicted below, the narrowest point for a tanker of 271 meters in length transiting the Bosphorus is 698 meters in width which equates to 0.38 nautical miles.
By comparison, the narrowest point in the Douglas Channel leading to and from Kitimat is 1,580 meters in width which equates to 0.85 nautical miles.
Panama Canals and Suez Canals
Panama Canal 2012:
- 14,684 transits
- Includes 2,122 tankers (carrying 45 million tons of product)
- Includes 186 LPG carriers
- Large LNG carriers will transit from 2015 following Canal expansion
Suez Canal 2012:
- 17,225 vessel transits
- 3639 tanker transits
- 800 LNG carrier transits
Taking these examples, and many more that could be provided, it is apparent that marine traffic in British Columbia is light by any standard of world comparison. The increases that may occur in the years ahead are therefore very manageable without compromise to levels of safety.