Canada contributes to international effort to combat marine pollution crime

News release

November 14, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario

Enforcing Canadian environmental and marine laws is one important way that the Government of Canada takes action to protect our coasts, wildlife, nature, and economy. Marine pollution can contaminate water and coastal areas, harm marine and coastal ecosystems, affect vulnerable species, and risk public health and food security. It can also significantly damage the livelihood of the millions of people who economically depend on marine products and can threaten sustainable development.

During the month of October, the Government of Canada was proud to participate in the first-ever global action aimed at combatting maritime pollution crime, an INTERPOL-led exercise code-named Operation 30 Days at Sea. Marine pollution crime includes illegal discharges of oil and disposal of waste at sea; breaches of ship emissions regulations; and illicit pollution incidents on rivers, in coastal areas, and other land-based areas (run-off to the sea). The collaborative efforts of 276 law enforcement and environmental agencies across 58 countries have detected more than 500 offences around the world through this initiative.

Canada has effective pollution prevention regulations that protect its waterways. Environment and Climate Change Canada and Transport Canada enforced these regulations by conducting numerous vessel inspections as part of Operation 30 Days at Sea, in addition to their usual operations. Transport Canada’s National Aerial Surveillance Program aircraft flew almost 100 hours on the East and West Coasts, over 640 vessels. More than 20,000 vessels were also monitored through the aircraft’s automatic identification system. Information from these inspections and overflights is currently being compiled and could lead to future investigations.

Because microbeads contribute significantly to ocean pollution, Environment and Climate Change Canada intelligence analysts completed an assessment measuring the risk of non-compliance with the Government of Canada’s Microbeads in Toiletries Regulations. This assessment identifies future opportunities to quash non-compliance.

The enhanced cooperation among law enforcement agencies in Canada, with our partners in the United States and abroad, increases the collective ability to target polluters and criminal networks committing the violations likely to cause pollution both in Canada and around the world.


“Protecting the health of our oceans is a top priority for our government: marine litter is choking our waters and threatening the coastlines wildlife call home. We know that we have to work together, with countries across the globe, to keep our oceans healthy. I am very proud of the role Canada has taken in this unprecedented global effort to deter polluters from illegal activities and ultimately improve the health of the world’s oceans.”
– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Through our government’s $1.5 billion investment in the Oceans Protection Plan, we are creating economic opportunities for Canadians today, including jobs for middle-class Canadians, while protecting our waters for future generations. The Government of Canada’s partnership with INTERPOL is another example of what we are doing to protect the marine environment.”
– Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

Quick facts

  • During Operation 30 Days at Sea, Environment and Climate Change Canada worked closely with Transport Canada as well as the United States Coast Guard and the United States Department of Justice. The joint Canadian efforts were also supported by Canada’s Department of Justice and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

  • An operation of this size required a number of regional and national intelligence meetings and training courses to advance tactical planning and international cooperation, including a U.S. Canada meeting hosted by Environment and Climate Change Canada, in July 2018. To support increased U.S. Canada cooperation, Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers travelled to the U.S. for joint training operations on the East and West Coasts.

  • Operation 30 Days at Sea was coordinated by INTERPOL’s Environmental Security Programme and its Pollution Crime Working Group (of which Environment and Climate Change Canada is an active member) in partnership with Europol.

  • The operation involved national police; customs authorities; environmental, maritime, and border agencies; and port authorities. It established a global network of 122 national operational coordinators leading operational activities in their respective countries, with a multi-agency approach providing a stronger response to marine pollution crimes.

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada administers and enforces several pieces of legislation that help prevent pollution and protect human health and the marine environment, as well as migratory birds, including the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994.

  • Transport Canada is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the pollution prevention provisions of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, which prohibit the discharge of a prescribed pollutant.

  • Transport Canada keeps a watchful eye over ships transiting waters under Canadian jurisdiction, through its National Aerial Surveillance Program. Aircraft patrol our 243,000 km of coastlines, with a Dash 7 and two Dash 8 aircraft.

  • A world-leading marine system requires strong environmental protection for Canada’s coastal habitats, ecosystems, and marine species. As part of Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan, our ability to plan for and respond to marine pollution is being enhanced by putting more emergency response and enforcement resources on the ground, on the East and West Coasts.

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Caroline Thériault
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Natural Resources in Canada’s Facebook page

Delphine Denis
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Transport

Media Relations
Transport Canada

Transport Canada on Twitter: @Transport_gc

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