Our Story

Photo by Katie Fleming

Safe Shippers Marching in the 2013 Friday Harbor 4th of July Parade. Click on photo to see video.


Safe Shippers join Salish Sea Stands Day, on the capitol steps in Olympia. Lobbying for the Oil Transportation Safety Bill. February 2017.



San Juan Islanders for Safe Shipping is a diverse group of San Juan Islands’ citizens who call these islands home. We are united in our concern about the likely adverse impacts to our economy and our environment from the increase of vessel traffic and the transport of fossil fuels through the Salish Sea.


FRIENDS of the San Juans was founded in 1979 as our community’s environmental watch dog. Like the guard at the gate, they were one of the first to sound the warning of a possible threat to our islands ecosystems – in the form of fossil fuel shipments.

Lopez NoCoalition, Orcas NoCoalition, and San Juan Islanders for Safe Shipping were independently formed, on their respective islands, in the spring of 2012. For each, the goal was to inform and galvanize the community to participate in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) scoping process for the proposed Gateway Pacific coal terminal.

These four organizations coalesced (coal-less) as San Juans Alliance – to be a stronger voice, together, to fight the coal terminal. Understandably, much attention was being paid to the coal trains on the part of concerned mainlanders, but as islanders, we were concerned about the impacts from the shipping of coal and, with that, the increased potential for a major cargo and oil spill in the waters that surround our home.

In May 2016, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers upheld the Lummi Nation’s treaty-protected fishing rights and blocked the coal terminal project at Cherry Point.

Since that time, we have seen many more export projects being considered for our region. As of spring 2017, there are 20 new and expanding terminal projects proposed for the Salish Sea. If they all happen, shipping traffic will increase by nearly 40%. Of all these new ships, 91% of them are Canada-bound and our islands are along that route.

Some of the impacts from increased shipping:
• ship noise on humans and orcas
• aquatic invasive species in ballast water
• air pollution from the ships’ engine exhaust
• increased chance of ship collisions, groundings, and ship strikes on marine mammals
• loss of our tourism economy in the event of an oil spill

Safe Shippers continue to take action – writing letters, submitting comments, showing up at rallies and hearings, motivating our island communities – to keep our Salish Sea a safe and healthy home for all.

Contact us by email: islandersforsafeshipping@gmail.com