Government of Canada announces new Oceans Protection Plan actions to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways

News release

March 13, 2018             Vancouver, British Columbia

Canada’s coasts support Indigenous and coastal communities, enable international trade, are home to precious ecosystems, and play a key role in strengthening the economy and growing our middle class. The Government of Canada, under the Oceans Protection Plan, is making sure our coasts are protected in both straightforward and transformational ways.

Today, during a speech at the British Columbia Chamber of Shipping’s Annual General Meeting, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, announced that under the Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada is launching pilot projects for the Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness initiative on British Columbia’s North Coast and investing in measures to reduce the underwater noise impacting Southern Resident Killer Whales.

As part of the Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness initiative, the Haida Nation and the Gitga’at Nation will host pilot projects, beginning in fall 2018 and concluding in fall 2019.

The two Nations will work with Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard and other federal departments to develop, test and evaluate a new marine awareness information system. This system will provide coastal partners, including Indigenous peoples, provincial governments, scientific non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders, with essential maritime information, including near real-time data on ship traffic. They are the first of up to nine communities that will host pilot versions of the new system across the three coasts.

Minister Garneau also announced that, following an open, competitive process, Aqua-Guard Spill Response Inc., from North Vancouver, British Columbia, has been awarded a $1.2M contract for new marine environment response equipment, specifically multi-cassette portable skimmer packages. The Canadian Coast Guard uses portable skimmers to recover marine pollution spills and reduce the potential impact to shorelines and other natural resources.

In addition, Budget 2018 announced more than $167 million to help the Government of Canada better understand risks to whales, including the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale. This budget funding will allow the Government of Canada to take the next steps needed to research and take action to address the impacts of human activities on Canada’s endangered whales. Working together with industry stakeholders, Indigenous groups, environmental stakeholders, academia, the scientific community and international partners, we will identify, test, and implement regulatory and other measures to reduce underwater noise from vessels.

The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways. Through this plan, the Government of Canada is creating a world-leading marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while protecting our coasts and waterways for generations to come. This work is being done in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, local stakeholders and coastal communities.


“I am proud of the partnerships our Government is building under the Oceans Protection Plan. The traditional knowledge and expertise we are gaining from Canada‘s Indigenous peoples and coastal communities is a critical element to safeguarding Canada’s waters, and the Enhanced Marine Situational Awareness project is an excellent example of these partnerships at work. In addition, Budget 2018 funding will allow us to take the next steps needed to address the impacts of human activities that are threatening endangered whales. Safeguarding whales is a government priority that we take very seriously.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport

“Our involvement in the development of the Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness initiative gives us access to the best coastal marine information today. We’ll be aware of all shipping traffic in near real-time, be able to make informed decisions if there is a crisis or accident and better plan for the future; such as keeping vessels well offshore. By incorporating our Nation’s deep ocean knowledge into the system, all users in the future will have a better understanding of Haida Gwaii and the reasons we insist on its protection.”

kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin
President of the Haida Nation

“The Gitga'at First Nation is pleased to participate in the Enhanced Marine Situational Awareness pilot project that will collect near real-time information on vessel traffic, and also provide the ability to monitor marine mammals. Being able to contribute to and have access to other sources of this critical information will serve to enhance prevention measures and improve response capacity in the event of a marine emergency in local waterways."

Roger Sterritt
Manager, Gitg’at Emergency Response Team
Gitga’at First Nation

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada has already announced initiatives worth more than $500 million under the Oceans Protection Plan.

  • The five-year, $62.5 million Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness initiative was announced in November 2017. It will improve collaboration between federal departments, coastal partners, Indigenous peoples, provincial governments, scientific non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders, and lead to stronger marine safety planning, pollution prevention and emergency response.

  • In February 2018, the Government of Canada implemented an Interim Protocol for the use of Southern British Columbia Anchorages. This Protocol included a number of voluntary changes to present local anchorage practices, including the equal distribution of anchorage use and introducing noise and lighting restrictions to anchored vessels.

Associated links


Follow Transport Canada on Twitter: @Transport_gc ‏

Delphine Denis
Press Secretary
Office of the Honorable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

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