Canada has an enviable marine safety record that continues to deliver transportation in diverse and challenging conditions. This is the product of a strong safety culture, comprehensive international and national regulations, and a pollution preparedness and response framework that has evolved to respond to the growth in marine commerce in Canada.
While Canada’s marine industry enjoys an excellent safety record, it must seek continuous improvement, especially as growth in Canadian and international trade is expected in the future. Canada’s safety framework must be sufficiently adaptive to recognize the increased interest by regional and local communities to be more involved in the protection of the environment in which it operates. Furthermore, the safety framework of tomorrow should incorporate advanced technologies that could provide advanced warning of potential risks, increased transparency, and support supply chain efficiencies.
An effective Canadian Marine Safety Framework should comprise the following:
- An efficient and effective Pilotage regime that addresses regional characteristics while respecting the competiveness of the supply chain. As the sole provider of this service, the regime should be accountable to achieving service levels and performance metrics agreed to between pilot corporations and industry. Compulsory pilotage areas and boarding stations should be reviewed periodically in view of advancements in technology and changes in vessel traffic to validate the risks and the appropriate mitigation strategy. The current regional approach, with certain additional measures, is preferred over a national model and has generally been effective;
- A Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) with the appropriate statutory authority to properly fulfil its current mandate, including incident command and pollution preparedness and response. Consideration should be made for a greater role and increased statutory authority, including marine safety and security, environmental stewardship, and port state control;
- A coastal domain awareness system that integrates both real-time and non-real-time data could provide multiple federal departments with detailed situation reports with the integration of radar, AIS transponders, meteorological sensors, spill response details, and consolidated pre-arrival information. The system could be automated to monitor traffic in and around conservation or sensitive areas and calculate the environmental performance of each vessel. Data should be made available to the public where possible in a transparent manner from a trusted source to help restore confidence in coastal communities and Indigenous People;
- An overhaul of the current vessel reporting and clearance system that establishes the CCG as the single point of contact for vessel reporting. The framework should be modelled similar to the US National Vessel Movement Center, potentially reducing the administrative burden on vessels and ships agents and providing a platform for improving the quality of marine data. The single window approach for vessel clearance is making significant progress at the IMO’s Facilitation Committee and Canada has the opportunity to take best practices and lessons learned from other nations and develop a platform that serves not only the regulatory needs of the various departments but will also serve as a means of providing controlled levels of transparency to all stakeholders;
- Consideration for expanding CCG vessel traffic services to include vessel traffic direction in areas where positive control would provide increased risk mitigation and commercial predictability. While movement restricted areas have procedures for managing vessel traffic within tidal windows, an increased level of order or enforcement of the procedures would provide commercial marine users with greater certainty when arranging pilotage, tugs and labour.
- A CCG icebreaking fleet with sufficient vessels to cover current commitments in all regions. This will include ship construction in accordance with the current plan for fleet renewal under the National Shipbuilding Strategy, and interim measures to fulfil existing and anticipated capability gaps in the short-term. While the plan to renew the fleet under the National Shipbuilding Strategy is sound, the delivery of new vessels will be lengthy and the CCG already lacks sufficient resources to fulfil it mandates associated with icebreaking and aids to navigation. The CCG is extremely challenged to support icebreaking in the winter concurrently in the Great Lakes, St Lawrence and East Coast regions and then be prepared to support summer operations in the Arctic. This negatively affects the competiveness of Canadian ports and, in the Arctic, it could have drastic negative impacts for Arctic communities that rely upon resupply by ship; and
- Consideration for a coastal salvage capability.
- Financial assistance or incentives to terminals and port operators focussed on improving dock safety and waterways to accommodate larger vessels.