Our Role « BC Maritime Employers Association



Our Role

Maritime History

With more than 25,000 kms of coast, BC’s rich history and culture is indelibly linked to the waterfront.

Coastal First Nations cultures have been shaped by their relationship with the ocean and coastlines, which provided sustenance and transportation. Early explorers discovered BC by ship. And later, settlers built communities and established ports along the waterfront. Today, our economy, transportation modes and lifestyle are deeply connected by our proximity to the water.

The shipping industry that we know today has undergone much transformation over the centuries. Before WWII, there were just three ports in BC; today ports and terminals dot the coast from north to south. And while 20 years ago, most of the goods were moved from ship to shore using manual labour, today’s waterfront terminals are run with computers and highly specialized equipment.



Canada’s west coast ports are a key part of the Pacific Gateway Strategy. Links in a vital supply chain, they connect Canada to the rest of the world.

BC’s maritime industry is an important contributor to the both the provincial and national economies. Each year, the Port of Vancouver alone trades approximately $200 billion in goods with more than 170 trading economies.

The Asia-Pacific Gateway contributes $12 billion dollars to Canada’s GDP annually. It generates 130,000 direct and indirect jobs Canada-wide and 47,000 direct jobs in BC alone.

The BCMEA is invested in the ongoing success of the Gateway strategies. Together with our customer-members, we make sure that BC ports are competitive on a global level. We are proud to be a part of the ever-growing waterfront industry, and its contribution to the BC and Canadian economies.


If you live on, or near the coast in BC, chances are your life is touched by BCMEA member companies several times a day. We are an integral part of your community.

Our customer-members are a visible presence on the ever-shifting waterfront landscape. Ships anchored in our harbours, giant cranes on land and offshore, stacks of shipping containers and massive silos — these are signs of a bustling waterfront industry.

In communities from Victoria to just south of Alaska, our members employ more than 8,500 men and women and deliver over $500 million in wages in BC each year. Almost 130,000 jobs are indirectly created across Canada by the BC maritime sector.

Our customer-members also connect you to the rest of the world via an astonishing variety and volume of goods. Every day of the year, we move 60 million tonnes of commodities, from wheat, coal and lumber to bananas, cars and electronics. You name it — BCMEA members and their ILWU workforce move it.