Canada Energy Regulator 16 Recommendations
On February 22, 2019, the National Energy Board (now the Canada Energy Regulator or CER) submitted its Reconsideration Report on the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) project, with an overall recommendation that the project is in the Canadian public interest and should be approved, subject to 156 conditions and 16 non-binding recommendations. These are intended to mitigate, avoid or lessen potential effects associated with the project and related marine shipping.
The government is responding to all 16 recommendations. Many of them build on existing federal initiatives, such as the Oceans Protection Plan (OPP) and Whales Initiative. Where current initiatives or accommodations do not exist, the government intends to take action to address the remaining CER recommendations.
1. Advancing Knowledge in Support of Managing Cumulative Effects in the Salish Sea
The Government of Canada acknowledges that one of the key foundational pieces required to manage cumulative effects is a robust knowledge base to support decision-making. This will be informed through the Salish Sea Initiative, which is being co-developed with Indigenous communities.
Several existing federal measures contribute to the assessment and management of cumulative effects in the Salish Sea. These include:
- the Oceans Protection Plan (OPP), which is looking at the cumulative effects of marine shipping;
- the Open Science and Data Platform (OSDP) — an online, user-friendly interface for accessing data and science related to cumulative effects; and
- Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), to help improve data collection and evaluation in the Salish Sea.
The Government of Canada is further enhancing knowledge to support cumulative effects assessment and management in the Salish Sea by:
- taking stock of the current state of knowledge, and informed by the TMX Salish Sea Initiative, identifying gaps in understanding ecosystem components of value and concern;
- enhancing research on and monitoring of water quality, air quality, and air emissions;
- improving access to this knowledge through tools such as an interactive map under the Salish Sea Initiative, the Marine Emissions Inventory Tool and the Cumulative Effects Open Science and Data Platform .
Additional links can be made to the TMX Marine Bird Monitoring and Conservation Program (Recommendation 3) and the Whales Initiative, among others.
As the Salish Sea Initiative is co-developed, we are responding by increasing access to existing knowledge on identified ecosystem components.
2. Annual reporting on progress to address the health of the Salish Sea.
The government will assess its current annual reporting related to the health of the Salish Sea and will work to close any gaps.
3. Implement a marine bird monitoring and protection program to improve the understanding of the impacts to marine birds from ships in the Salish Sea.
Environment and Climate Change Canada currently conducts monitoring of migratory birds in the Salish Sea.
In addition, the Salish Sea Initiative would provide support for monitoring migratory birds in conjunction with Indigenous groups.
4. Expedite the feasibility study, and if feasible, establish a Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area.
Parks Canada’s feasibility assessment for establishing a national marine conservation area reserve in the Southern Strait of Georgia is proceeding in a timely manner.
Acceleration of the feasibility assessment may be possible in collaboration with Indigenous organizations and stakeholders.
5. Develop an Offset Program for increased underwater noise and vessel strike risk as a result of project-related marine shipping.
The government is currently implementing multiple initiatives — including the OPP, Whales Initiative and Additional Measures for Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) — in a comprehensive plan of action that includes unprecedented new measures to address the three main threats to the species: access to prey, noise from shipping traffic and contaminants in the water.
While the impacts of the TMX project represent a small portion of the cumulative effects that are threatening the SRKW, the comprehensive action plan aims to reduce cumulative effects on the whales and is designed to offset the impacts of project-related traffic.
New measures include a voluntary slowdown in Haro Straight and Boundary Pass, Chinook fishery closure areas, a reduction in Chinook salmon fishing quotas, minimum approach distances of 200 metres around all killer whales and 400 metres within SRKW critical habitat, interim sanctuary zones in key foraging areas, supporting research into whale detection and avoidance, and actions to address contaminants.
The government also intends to address data gaps with respect to vessel strike risks for at-risk species. As will, it will conduct studies to determine the effectiveness of current and planned measures for the SRKW to address risks to other species. This assessment will help better understand these risks and inform a decision on the need for additional measures.
In addition, the government will engage with the shipping industry and with committed shippers, to demonstrate and deploy best available technologies and practices that minimize underwater noise from project-related shipping.
6. Consider specific measures related to Recommendation 5 and report on their potential feasibility and likely effectiveness.
In addition to the measures identified in Recommendation 5, the government will bring forward the new Quiet Vessels Initiative and will continue to report to Canadians on the feasibility and effectiveness of this work.
7. Update federal marine oil spill response requirements.
Most of the elements included in the recommendation are already being addressed through the OPP and through new accommodation measures such as the Co-Developing Community Response (CDCR) initiative, which will build capacity in Indigenous groups in order to more actively involve them and local communities in oil spill preparedness and response.
For example, through CDCR, Indigenous communities along the marine route will be empowered with information, personnel, training and equipment to protect culturally important and sacred sites on their traditional territories, as well as technology and tools to improve alerting, notifications and communications during a marine incident.
With the $45.5-million Mutli-Partner Research Initiative (MPRI) run under the OPP, the government has invested in oil spill research and innovative response projects across the country to better understand spills, their environmental effects and how to respond. This initiative engages the knowledge of oil spill experts, Indigenous and coastal communities, regulatory agencies and response organizations to develop improved responses, and support science-based decisions to minimize the impacts of oil spills while enhancing habitat recovery.
8. Develop a regulatory framework for mandatory enhanced tug escort in the Salish Sea.
Under the OPP, a range of initiatives exists to ensure world-leading marine safety, including in the Salish Sea (e.g., improved navigational aids, pilotage reform and increased Canadian Coast Guard response capacity).
CER Conditions #133 and #144 outline the detailed requirements for tug escorts in the Salish Sea for project-related tankers. Transport Canada will work with the CER to develop a regulatory approach to ensure oversight and enforcement of the mandatory tug escort.
9. Consider a Canada/U.S. Transboundary Vessel Risk Assessment.
Recognizing ongoing work with our U.S. partners with respect to marine safety, the government will undertake a preliminary analysis on a transboundary vessel traffic risk assessment.
10. Develop greenhouse gas reduction measures for marine shipping that align with the final International Maritime Organization Strategy.
Canada is participating in discussions on GHG emissions reductions at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and supports the implementation of the Initial IMO Strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships.
Canada continues to work with the maritime shipping industry and international shippers to demonstrate and deploy best available technologies for the reduction of GHGs from marine shipping associated with the project.
11. Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee (IAMC) engagement on marine safety system and relevant Canadian Coast Guard programs.
The recommendation provides a further opportunity to reinforce Indigenous engagement and partnerships that have been established, including through the IAMC.
Creating permanent and long-term working relationships with Indigenous partners, and capacity within those communities to participate in aspects of marine safety, will ensure a more robust marine safety regime in the long term and benefit coastal Indigenous communities as well as all Canadians.
12. Continue engagement and awareness activities targeting small vessels operators to prevent marine collisions.
The government will modernize the boating safety program and expand the mandate of Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety to focus on fishing vessel operators and operators of small commercial vessels, as well as Indigenous and coastal communities.
The government will collaborate with a number of coastal Indigenous groups on activities to increase boating safety awareness in their communities.
13. Accelerate implementation of the Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness initiative (EMSA).
The government is accelerating the development and implementation of the EMSA Initiative, which aims to increase access to maritime information online. It is also extending the Automatic Identification Systems (AIS), which identifies and tracks vessels operating in Canadian waters — for smaller vessels.
These initiatives will enhance situational awareness and provide useful information to enhance the safety of smaller vessels on the water.
14. Develop and deploy new oil recovery technologies.
Through the OPP, the government has made a significant investment in protecting our coast and waterways. For instance, the $45.5-million MPRI and the Alternative Response Measures (ARMs) are helping harness best-in-class technologies for oil spill response.
Over the coming months, the government will develop a new challenge to support the rapid development of new oil spill recovery technologies.
15. Review federal marine oil spill compensation regimes.
Canada’s compensation regime went through significant improvements in 2018, including through the addition of measures to provide unlimited compensation through the Ship-Sourced Oil Pollution Fund (SOPF) so that all Canadian victims and responders can receive 100% compensation for eligible claims.
Looking ahead, the government will further assess the scope of losses that could be addressed by Canada’s liability and compensation regime for marine oil spills (for example, non-use value).
16. Develop a formal complaint resolution program to resolve complaints about marine vessels anchored at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority-managed anchorages.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) has already established a process for managing complaints regarding activities within the port’s jurisdiction, including with respect to anchorages.
As part of the OPP, Transport Canada also launched a national Anchorages Initiative, which will include research and analysis of the environmental, economic, social, safety and security impacts of anchorages, as well as examine the management of anchorages outside public ports.
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