Government of Canada Takes Action to Protect Canadian Arctic Waters

Mandatory reporting of vessels to Coast Guard strengthens Canada's northern sovereignty

OTTAWA, June 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Today the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and Minister responsible for the Canadian Coast Guard, and Senator Claude Carignan announced another important measure to protect and defend Canada's northern sovereignty. Beginning July 1, the Government of Canada is requiring that foreign and domestic vessels of a certain size report to the Canadian Coast Guard if travelling through Canada's Arctic waters. This new mandatory requirement will ensure vessels report information such as identity, position and destination to the Canadian Coast Guard.

"This government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has taken unprecedented action to protect Canada's North, and today's announcement will allow the Canadian Coast Guard to keep closer watch on our Arctic waters," said Minister Shea. "With mandatory reporting, the Canadian Coast Guard will be able to promote the safe navigation of vessels, keep watch on vessels carrying pollutants, fuel oil and dangerous goods, and respond quickly in the event of an accident."

This announcement follows new legislation passed in June 2009 that expanded the area within Arctic waters over which the government could enforce important Canadian pollution regulations, from 100 nautical miles from shore to 200 nautical miles. The announcement complements the Government of Canada's Northern Strategy, focused on strengthening Canada's Arctic sovereignty, protecting the fragile northern environment, and promoting economic and social development while giving northerners more control over their economic and political destiny.

"Our government is committed to keeping Canada's North clean and green," said Senator Carignan. "Today's announcement will help conserve and protect Canada's oceans for generations. We developed a robust Northern Strategy to ensure Canada's best expertise strengthens and sustains this precious environment."

Since 2006, Prime Minister Harper has made annual visits to Canada's North along with government ministers to announce or highlight measures, including:

    
    -   introducing more stringent rules to protect maritime and coastal
        regions from dumping and other forms of pollution than are required
        in international waters;
    -   investing $720 million to procure a new polar icebreaker and
        procuring new Arctic/offshore patrol ships;
    -   expanding and modernizing the Canadian Rangers;
    -   creating the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency;
    -   announcing funding to geo-map the North and new resources to
        determine the full extent of Canada's continental shelf ;
    -   establishing a commercial fisheries harbour in Pangnirtung;
    -   committing to a world class Arctic research station to be on the
        cutting edge of environmental science and resource development;
    -   expanding the Nahanni National Park Reserve;
    -   taking steps to create new national parks by withdrawing millions of
        hectares of land near the East Arm of Great Slave Lake, around the
        Ramparts River and Wetlands, and in the Sahtu region;
    -   establishing a fund to ensure the long-term protection of the
        Sahoyué-ehdacho National Historic Site on Great Bear Lake; and
    -   establishing three new national wildlife areas on and around Baffin
        Island, protecting local species and habitat, including the bowhead
        whale.
    

The regulations will require vessels of a certain size to submit reports in three stages: a pre-arrival information report prior to entering the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services (NORDREG) Zone; while navigating within the NORDREG Zone; and upon exiting the NORDREG Zone. These affected vessels include:

    
    -   vessels of 300 gross tonnage or more;
    -   vessels towing or pushing a vessel if the combined gross tonnage of
        the vessels is 500 gross tonnage;
    -   vessels carrying a pollutant or dangerous goods as cargo; or
    -   vessels towing or pushing a vessel carrying a pollutant or dangerous
        goods as cargo.
    

These new requirements will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on June 23, 2010, under the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone Regulations. For more information about these regulations or the Shipping Safety Control Zones Order, go to http://canadagazette.gc.ca.

Transport Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca. Subscribe to news releases and speeches at www.tc.gc.ca/e-news and keep up to date on the latest from Transport Canada.

This news release may be made available in alternative formats for persons living with visual disabilities.

    
    Backgrounder Information

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               THE NORTHERN CANADA VESSEL TRAFFIC SERVICES ZONE
               ------------------------------------------------
    

The Government of Canada is implementing the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone Regulations, requiring that foreign and domestic vessels of a certain size report information to the Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre (MCTS) of the Canadian Coast Guard. Vessels will be required to submit reports prior to entering, while navigating within and upon exiting the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services (NORDREG) Zone. The new regulations make the previous voluntary traffic reporting system for the NORDREG Zone mandatory.

The regulations apply to large vessels since they pose the greatest risk to the environment. Larger vessels can carry more fuel oil, pollutants, cargoes and dangerous goods, compared to smaller vessels. The following types of large vessels are subject to the regulations:

    
    -   vessels of 300 gross tonnage or more;
    -   vessels towing or pushing a vessel if the combined gross tonnage of
        the vessels is 500 gross tonnage;
    -   vessels carrying a pollutant or dangerous goods as cargo; or
    -   vessels towing or pushing a vessel carrying a pollutant or dangerous
        goods as cargo.
    

It is mandatory for these vessels to report their position, name and course information, along with other required details.

    
    Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services (NORDREG) Zone
    ------------------------------------------------------
    

The Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services (NORDREG) Zone covers Canada's coastal northern waters, including the shipping safety control zones under the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act, which now extend up to 200 nautical miles offshore, up to the outer limit of Canada's exclusive economic zone.

In this NORDREG zone, the Canadian Coast Guard will help ensure safe, efficient navigation, and environmental protection by:

    
    -   monitoring vessel movements;
    -   helping to screen vessels for safety and environmental protection;
    -   establishing a communications link with the vessel to address
        emergencies and preventative measures;
    -   monitoring dangerous goods and pollutants transported in Arctic
        waters;
    -   providing up-to-date ice routing information and conditions, as well
        as facilitating the provision of ice breaker services; and
    -   providing shipping notices related to the safety of navigation.

    To view map of "Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services (NORDREG) Zone,
please click on http://files.newswire.ca/121/NordregEngMap.doc


                         CANADA'S NORTHERN STRATEGY
                         --------------------------
    

The Government of Canada is advancing the Northern Strategy, built on four primary objectives:

    
    -   to vigorously demonstrate our Arctic sovereignty as international
        interest in the region increases;
    -   to encourage economic and social development that benefits
        northerners through efficient and responsible regulation of the
        North's vast resource potential;
    -   to respond to the challenges of climate change in the North and make
        sure that its countless ecological wonders are protected for future
        generations; and
    -   to provide northerners with more control over their own economic and
        political destiny.
    

The government is committed to ensuring that a strong and prosperous North helps shape the future of our nation. Canada's Economic Action Plan included a number of investments in economic development, skills training, housing and research infrastructure in support of the government's Northern Strategy.

Recent Northern Strategy commitments include:

    
    Sovereignty
    -----------

    Strengthening Our Presence

    -   $720 million to procure a new polar icebreaker - the CCGS John G.
        Diefenbaker
    -   Procuring new Arctic/offshore patrol ships
    -   Expanding and modernizing the Canadian Rangers
    -   Establishing a Canadian Forces Army Training Centre in Resolute Bay
    -   Establishing a deep-water berthing and fuelling facility in Nanisivik
    -   Launching the RADARSAT II satellite
    -   Ongoing military exercises and surveillance operations such as
        Operation Nanook

    Enhancing our Stewardship

    -   Providing strategic meteorological information and navigational data
        in key zones to facilitate the safe management of marine traffic in
        the Arctic (Budget 2010)
    -   Implementing the new Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations
    -   Extending the application of the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention
        Act by increasing the area defined as Arctic waters
    -   Making reporting mandatory for all vessels under NORDREG

    Defining Our Domain and Advancing Our Knowledge

    -   An additional $40 million over four years to fund scientific studies
        to determine the full extent of Canada's continental shelf as defined
        under UNCLOS

    Environmental Protection
    ------------------------

    Protecting Northern waters and lands

    -   Establishing conservation areas and national parks
    -   $15 million over three years to create and expand protected areas in
        the Northwest Territories
    -   Supporting the Health of the Oceans initiative
    -   Accelerating action on the reclamation and remediation of federal
        contaminated sites across Canada
    

SOURCE Transport Canada

For further information: For further information: James Kusie, Director of Issues Management and Parliamentary Affairs, Office of Canada's Transport Minister John Baird, Ottawa, 613-991-0700, Media Relations, Transport Canada, Ottawa, 613-993-0055, Nancy Bishay, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa, 613-992-3474, Media Relations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa, 613-990-7537


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