The question is how degraded has the Salish Sea already become from shipping traffic out of Canada's largest port, Vancouver. Indigenous groups from Canada and the US want hard answers before Trudeau even thinks about launching an armada of bitumen laden supertankers through those same waters
Indigenous groups in Canada and the United States are calling for a study of how human activity has degraded the waters off British Columbia's coast before any new vessel traffic is allowed in the area, where port and pipeline activities are on the rise.
Members of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in B.C. and the Tulalip Tribes and Lummi Nation in Washington state say they want a halt to any more marine traffic in the Salish Sea until the impact study is complete.
"We're Coast Salish nations that have come together from both sides of the border with the United States and Canada to address this urgent issue that's happening to our Salish Sea," Raynell Morris of the Lummi Nation said Wednesday.
They say the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and a new shipping terminal at Roberts Bank, 35 kilometres south of Vancouver, would increase pressure on sea life.
The Federal Court of Appeal quashed the Trans Mountain project's approval in August in part due to the National Energy Board's failure to consider marine shipping impacts.
Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh said the decline of salmon stocks and, in turn, the endangered southern resident killer whales should be a wake up call to politicians on both sides of the border.
"To me it's like the canary in mines. The animals are going and it's happening and it's not going to be too long before it's affecting all of us," George said.
The groups said fisheries, sacred sites and traditional economies are all threatened by new and expanding port facilities and they want the study to consider change over time, not just the impacts of a single project.