Conversations That Matter features Robert Lewis-Manning, the president of the Chamber of Shipping in B.C., on the state of the industry in the coastal waters of British Columbia.
Lewis-Manning comes to the job after a distinguished career in shipping that includes 24 years in the Canadian navy. He says when it comes to shipping safety on the West Coast and in Canada, the numbers speak for themselves.
“We have a safety record that is among the best in the world and on the West Coast we have the best record in Canada,” Lewis-Manning says. “The reasons why are many. They include, but are not limited to, a culture of safety, a pilotage system that is world-class, guide ships, tugs, traffic control systems and traffic management strategies that focus on environmental protection.
Lewis-Manning says the Port of Vancouver, the Coast Guard, the Pacific Pilotage Authority, the Chamber of Shipping and the shipping companies that generate more than $500 million a day of economic activity all have safety as the No. 1 priority.
Conversations That Matter is a partner program with the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University. Join veteran Broadcaster Stuart McNish each week for these important and engaging Conversations shaping our future.
Op-ed piece highlights risks of tanker moratorium...
It is now well-known that the Federal Government intends to formalize a moratorium on the shipment of crude oil in waters off Northern British Columbia. Such a moratorium would be a precedent in Canada in so much as it would limit the ability of the supply chain to move a specific commodity by a specific mode of transportation in a specific area. For many in the marine industry, this appears to be a premature decision that was based on speculation rather than fact, or at least didn’t fully consider the industry’s safety record and the regulatory framework in which it operates, the legal obligations inherent in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or the industry’s leadership approach towards continuous improvement. It was not precipitated by a significant incident involving damage to the environment or loss of life, nor was the requirement identified by another government process such as a risk assessment. While transportation professionals may view the proposed moratorium as ill-conceived, it is clearly supported by some stakeholders who may not fully understand the scope of regulatory options available to the government to manage risk.
It would be easy to view the proposed moratorium in a negative light, especially as it appears to be a predetermined outcome without respecting due process. Notwithstanding, the Government has an opportunity to get this one right now by establishing a deliberate process from the start that is inclusive of stakeholders, transparent, and which clearly recognizes fact-based decision-making. This is clearly an emerging and important theme demanded by Canadians and First Nations, and supported by governments. The Government also has the advantage of time as it does not appear as if the proposed project will move forward quickly. Northern Gateway and the Aboriginal Equity Partners have requested that the Government, through the National Energy Board, approve an extension to the sunset clause for an additional three years in order to address regulatory and legal issues and further develop partnerships with First Nation communities in the region. Although a comprehensive marine environmental assessment was covered in the Northern Gateway regulatory review, additional time provides an opportunity to further examine the risk of marine operations in Northern B.C. and how to mitigate such risk. By doing so, it should become very clear as to whether a moratorium would be the appropriate tool to address the residual risk associated with possible tanker traffic.
Perhaps this is also an opportunity to address several other important challenges associated with the management, protection and use of our waters. Canada has a sporadic strategy and approach to marine spatial planning and this continues to play out under a new government. While the Minister of Transport quite rightly speaks about the need for transportation corridors to leverage increasing trade opportunities, he does not have a direct role in developing such corridors when it concerns Canada’s oceans. In fact, the statutory authority to plan and manage the use of Canadian waters rests with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and to a limited extent, Environment and Climate Change Canada through its agency, Parks Canada. While all of these departments have strong mandates and capable teams, none of them has a clear vision or mandate from the government to lead comprehensive marine spatial planning and so it is inevitable that a patchwork of initiatives will continue to unfold. The proposed moratorium is but one of many initiatives.
Many non-industry stakeholders may not be aware of the existing moratorium on Canada’s Pacific Coast. Concerns for the protection of the marine ecosystem are embodied in an existing voluntary Tanker Exclusion Zone that was created in 1985 largely to address the potential for a laden tanker to drift onto Canadian shores. This accomplishment was achieved through collaboration of the Canadian and United States Coast Guards and the U.S. marine industry involved in trading between Alaska and southern ports in the United States. More than 300 laden tankers transit annually along the B.C. Coast while respecting the Tanker Exclusion Zone. This positive example of collaboration and fact-based decision-making was made possible because all stakeholders had a common understanding of the risk and the objectives of mitigating the risk.
It is probable that an unsubstantiated moratorium on Canada’s West Coast would negatively affect the reputation of Canada’s commodity supply chain, potentially making Canada and Canadian ports less competitive. If the Government imposes a moratorium without due process, it would send a signal that the Canadian supply chain may not always be open for business. This approach would establish a precedent for managing undetermined risk that could propagate to other regions of the country and other modes of transportation. This mixed messaging contrasts the Government’s support for more open trading through free trade agreements such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and growing support for fact-based decision making. The timing of such a negative signal could not be worse as a sputtering global economy continues to have negative ramifications in Canada and for marine transportation in general.
This summer will be a busy period for the government and the marine industry. Minister Garneau is convening various round tables across the country while his department conducts extensive consultation on the future of Canada’s transportation framework. While many stakeholders will naturally draw a connection between the export of oil and the proposed moratorium, the significance of the moratorium as it relates to the Canadian supply chain is cause for greater concern. The use of moratoriums should be reserved as a last resort to halt an ongoing or imminent activity that could result in social, economic or environmental harm. This proposal does not appear to pass this litmus test and perhaps there is a better regulatory approach to address a risk that has not yet been fully determined. While not necessarily easy, it will be important for our industry to demonstrate to the government that it should avoid the establishment of any moratorium affecting transportation, and that it already has several strong statutory instruments at its disposal in order to manage risk.
Ottawa – The Chamber of Shipping recognizes the significance of protecting Canada’s oceans, as marine shipping is intrinsically connected to the health of our oceans. Through efforts at the International Maritime Organization and in Canada, positive change is underway to reduce the impact on the environment through advanced ship-design, and reductions of air emissions, aquatic invasive species, and ship generated noise. Likewise, Canada is fortunate to have a robust safety and pollution response framework and is a leader in much of the science and development associated with these efforts.
The Chamber is supportive of recent government initiatives to dedicate scientific resources to improving risk mitigation of shipping and impact on the environment, to strengthen the mandate and capabilities of the Canadian Coast Guard, and to improve the regulatory and pollution response framework.
The Chamber’s President, Robert Lewis-Manning, stated that “a safe, sustainable, and competitive transportation framework is essential to Canada’s prosperity and competitiveness.” Shipping accounts for 90% of goods transported around the world and, in more remote communities in Canada, it provides the necessities of life. Lewis-Manning added, “This must be achieved in a sustainable manner that respects the importance of the ocean and its value to Canadians and Indigenous people.”
The Chamber encourages government leadership in comprehensive marine spatial planning to ensure waterways are managed safely and effectively, and to establish low-impact trade corridors on the land and the sea that enable international and domestic trade safely and efficiently. The Chamber looks forward to engaging in marine spatial planning processes and to working with other stakeholders to achieve a safe, sustainable, and competitive marine transportation framework.
Vancouver, BC – The Council of Canadian Academies released a new report today titled Commercial Marine Shipping Accidents: Understanding the Risks in Canada. The Report concludes that “Canada’s waters as a whole have been getting safer over the past decade, with fewer commercial marine shipping accidents.” Of particular interest in the Report are the conclusions associated with the Pacific Region, which experiences the highest level of shipping activity in Canada while having the lowest accident rate and a relatively lower risk profile.
“This independent research provides a realistic evaluation of the state of our safety framework, which includes a robust international and national regulatory regime and improving industry safety procedures,” remarked Robert Lewis-Manning, the President of the Chamber of Shipping. “While the Report’s conclusions are positive, our industry must continue to strive for improvements to managing risk and reducing its impact on the marine ecosystem.”
The Chamber of Shipping is actively involved in promoting safe and sustainable shipping practices. Robert Lewis-Manning added that “the Report affirms the importance placed on protection of our marine ecosystem by First Nations and coastal communities. We share this priority and will work collaboratively to this end. The Chamber of Shipping applauds the effort of the Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping for initiating this workshop and report.”
The Chamber of Shipping is supportive of recent government initiatives to strengthen the mandate and capabilities of the Canadian Coast Guard, to review and strengthen the regulatory and spill response framework, and to dedicate scientific resources to improving risk mitigation of shipping and impact on the environment.
The Chairman, Dave Hill, and the Chamber of Shipping’s Board of Directors are pleased to announce that after an exhaustive search, Robert Lewis-Manning will be the association’s next President in succession to Stephen Brown who earlier this year announced his retirement plans for February 2016.
Robert comes to the Chamber of Shipping direct from the Canadian Shipowners’ Association (CSA) based in Ottawa where he has established key relationships with federal and provincial government decision makers and environmental organizations in his role as President of the CSA since 2010. The CSA’s recent legal challenge with the US ballast water management legislation has demonstrated Robert’s strength and ability in facilitation and advocacy on behalf of the shipping industry at all levels of government.
Robert holds a degree in Political Science and a Masters of Business Administration and is a former senior officer with 24 years of experience in the Royal Canadian Navy where he has also gained extensive international experience in policy roles in the United Kingdom and Canada. He is excited to return to the West Coast where he has maintained a resident in Victoria, BC.
While the Board looks forward to working with Robert, we recognize the expansive role that Stephen leaves behind upon his retirement. Every effort will made to ensure that the transition is seamless and that Robert is well briefed and personally introduced to as many of you as possible prior to Stephen’s departure planned for February 26, 2016 following our Annual General Meeting.
Please join us in welcoming Robert to the Chamber of Shipping and we look forward to your support as we move forward with our transition.