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Federal Government fails to protect birds and biodiversity in Fraser Delta with approval of Roberts Bank Terminal 2


For release: April 21, 2023

Port Rowan, ON – The federal government has approved a proposal to build a second container ship terminal in the Port of Vancouver, including the Fraser River.

During the historic United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal this December, the Government of Canada made commitments to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. Unfortunately, the Government of Canada is not following through on this promise with today’s approval of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2.

Western Sandpiper foraging on mudflats
Western Sandpiper foraging on mudflats of Brunswick Point, adjacent to Roberts Bank Deltaport. Photo: Jason Puddifoot

The expansion of this marine container terminal in the Fraser River Delta means:

-destroying 177 hectares of some of the last intact estuarine habitat in western Canada, where over 100 species at risk depend on the habitat for survival, including the Western Sandpiper

-disrupting a crucial refuelling stopover site for Western Sandpipers as they migrate to Alaska each year

-increasing shipping traffic which threatens Southern Resident Killer Whales

-threatening Canada’s largest salmon river and the coastal ecosystem it supports

“This is a very disappointing decision from the Federal Government, especially after the recent commitments at COP15 in Montreal.”

David Bradley, Birds Canada

According to the Government of Canada’s own experts and an Independent Review Panel, the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project will lead to continued declines in species. From the salmon swimming in the river to birds on the wing, all will suffer from this failed course correction.

At its core, this approval represents a failure to use the precautionary principle that avoids industrial impact at sites that are important to biodiversity. The offsets and mitigation measures legally bound in the conditions for the government’s acceptance of the development are inadequate to ensure the health of wildlife at risk at Roberts Bank.

The Government of Canada failed to show environmental leadership and contribute to its COP15 commitment of protecting 30% of lands and waters by 2030 when approving the construction of Roberts Banks Terminal 2. Birds Canada hopes the port is held accountable for the legally binding conditions in place, and that the impact of this development can be mitigated fully.

Media Contact: David Bradley, BC Director, Birds Canada (604) 401-6850

Important stopover habitat for Western Sandpiper and other migratory species at Roberts Bank Deltaport. Photo: Kris Cu

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