Report to Canadians: Investing in our coasts through the Oceans Protection Plan

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Launched in November 2016, the Government of Canada has been working with Canadians and Indigenous peoples through the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan to protect our coasts and waterways today and for future generations, while growing the economy.

The Oceans Protection Plan

Canada is a maritime nation with more coastline than any other country in the world. Canadians expect our marine safety system to protect these coasts while also supporting the marine shipping that is critical to our economy. Canada's marine safety system is world-leading—it's built on more than 100 regulations, 30 laws, and international agreements, but it must evolve along with this rapidly changing world.

Before the Oceans Protection Plan, Indigenous peoples and coastal communities advocated for a stronger role in protecting Canada's coasts. There was no legislation to address the growing problem of abandoned vessels in our waterways. Our coastal ecosystems, especially those where endangered whales species live, needed better protection. Despite the declining risk of ship-source oil spills, the Government of Canada wanted to strengthen our ability to prevent and respond to marine pollution.

Thanks to the over 50 initiatives under the Oceans Protection Plan, marine shipping in Canada has never been safer. Our coastal ecosystems—including endangered whales species—now benefit from stronger protection measures. In an era when the chances of ship-source spills are small, the Government of Canada has improved how we prevent and respond to any marine pollution event.

These advancements have only been possible thanks to unprecedented partnership with Indigenous and coastal communities, stakeholders, and researchers, who now have a stronger role in protecting our coasts and waterways.

Canadians can rely on work through the Oceans Protection Plan to protect our coasts and waterways for generations to come.

On this page, learn about what work has been done with Indigenous peoples, coastal communities, and marine stakeholders across the country under the Oceans Protection Plan, including the Whales Initiative:

A world-leading marine safety system

 

An effective marine safety system prevents marine incidents and ship-source pollution, responds quickly and efficiently to marine incidents, and preserves and restores the local environment. Canada's marine safety system is world-leading and designed to do each of these things.

Through the Oceans Protection Plan, we've made each of these elements—and the overall system itself—even stronger. We've done this by using new scientific research, technology, and equipment. We've also greatly benefitted by applying knowledge from our Indigenous partners.

Preventing marine accidents and ship-source pollution

 

Canada's oceans and waterways are a source of inspiration and pride for all Canadians. The Government of Canada recognizes enhanced prevention measures are needed to respond to marine pollution incidents faster and more effectively. To better prevent marine accidents and ship-source pollution, we have:

  • Updated the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the Marine Liability Act to:
    • improve the way we protect marine ecosystems from the impacts of shipping.
    • strengthen the Canadian Coast Guard's authorities to respond to ship-source pollution incidents more proactively, quickly, and effectively.
  • Modernized Canada's Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund so unlimited compensation is available to those affected and funding and compensation can be issued quicker. Compensation is paid for by the polluter.
  • Finished an independent review of the Pilotage Act and introduced legislative updates to the Act, which governs marine pilotage in Canada. These updates received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019. Marine pilotage is the service by which marine pilots take control of a vessel and navigate it through ports, straits, lakes, rivers, and other waterways. The updated Act supports Canada's excellent pilotage safety record and strengthens the pilotage system by introducing more consistency, efficiency, and transparency.
  • Facilitated the Royal Assent for the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act on June 21, 2019, making it illegal for oil tankers to stop, load, or unload large quantities of crude or persistent oil products in northern British Columbia.

New legislation aren't the only steps we've taken. Operationally, we have:

  • Improved navigation products and services for mariners in important coastal areas, the Arctic, and high-traffic commercial ports and waterways. These improvements help mariners steer their vessel in a safer manner, using the latest information.

    This work includes:

    • completing hydrographic surveys for 23 high-priority commercial ports and releasing 33 new or updated Electronic Navigation Charts (ENCs).
    • Increasing the modern hydrographic coverage in the Arctic's primary and secondary low impact shipping corridors from 23.2% to 32.4%.
    • completing multiple LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and multi-beam surveys in high-risk near-shore areas on the coasts of:
      • British Columbia
      • Newfoundland and Labrador
      • the Gulf of St. Lawrence
      • the Great Lakes Basin
    • developing dynamic tide models and current e-navigation products for 6 ports and waterways:
      • Kitimat
      • Vancouver
      • Fraser River
      • Straits of Canso
      • St. John's
      • the St. Lawrence River Quebec-Montreal Corridor
    • refurbishing permanent water level network stations for tide and water level monitoring.
  • Improved weather services (PDF, 214 KB) for mariners by developing local forecasts for 12 to 24 hours periods. These forecasts use high-resolution weather models, supported by dedicated buoys with weather instruments in high-risk areas like ports, harbours, and busy shipping lanes. This information reduces weather-related risks to mariners.

    This work also includes:

    • deploying 5 new, state-of-the-art weather buoys: 2 in Nova Scotia's Strait of Canso, 1 in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick's Bay of Fundy, and 2 in British Columbia's Georgia Strait.
    • launching a Marine weather observations website which lists local forecasts, buoy data, and forecaster notes. While deployed, the buoys collect and transmit hourly weather and wave data 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Announced 8 new radar sites in Atlantic Canada and British Columbia to improve coastal coverage and tracking for marine traffic. This work reduces navigational risks to mariners.
  • Worked with Indigenous partners to develop the Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness (EMSA) system. The system helps Indigenous partners, coastal communities, and stakeholders make evidence-based decisions by promoting collaboration and providing near real-time information about the marine environment. Local data available through EMSA system includes vessel traffic, weather, hydrography, sensitive ecological areas, and local historical knowledge of the waterways.
    • In 2020, Transport Canada ran 55 demos and 57 training sessions to improve and encourage use of the EMSA system. To date, nearly 600 licenses have been issued to Indigenous partners, coastal communities, and stakeholders across Canada.
 
  • Piloted projects with Indigenous and coastal communities, marine stakeholders, researchers, and maritime authorities in the Arctic and northern British Columbia to make local waterways safer, including:
    • issuing a Notice to Mariners in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, that advises icebreakers when community members are travelling on frozen waterways to hunt caribou.
    • implementing a voluntary protection zone on the west coast of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, to help reduce the risk and impact of marine incidents while improving response times to a disabled vessel.
  • Collected baseline information (PDF, 261 KB) on shorelines and marine birds in northern British Columbia to understand habitat use and threats. This includes:
    • 16,000 km of coastal shoreline aerial imagery
    • more than 1,200 km of at-sea marine bird survey data
    • GPS tracking studies of seven priority marine bird species
    • an initial assessment of diluted bitumen toxicity to birds
  • Created a permanent Canadian mission at the International Maritime Organization. This improves Canada's ability to lead internationally on marine safety, security, and environmental issues.
  • Finished and released a regional risk assessment to identify and analyze the risk of ship-source oil spills in northern British Columbia.
  • Purchased tools and trained workers so they can complete marine shipping-related risk assessments in coastal areas.
  • Under the Anchorages Initiative, conducted outreach with coastal communities and Indigenous groups and gathered feedback from key partners on managing anchorages outside of public ports in southern British Columbia.

Several actions have been taken to strengthen Canada's ability to prevent marine accidents and ship-sourced pollution specifically in Canada's North, including:

  • Introduced Arctic Shipping Safety and Pollution Prevention Regulations to address the unique hazards faced by vessels in the Arctic.
  • Put in place the International Maritime Organization's International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters in Canada (also known as the “Polar Code”). The Polar Code establishes mandatory measures for marine shipping safety and pollution prevention in the Arctic. It also provided funding to the International Maritime Organization to hold regional train-the-trainer workshops on the Polar Code. The first of 4 workshops were held in Canada in September 2019.
  • Funded northern organizations to participate in discussions on the use and transportation of heavy fuel oils in the Arctic.
  • Extended the Canadian Coast Guard's annual Arctic operational season to help mariners both earlier and later in the navigation season.
  • Provided funding through the Safety Equipment and Basic Marine Infrastructure for Northern Communities Initiative to make Arctic resupply operations more efficient and safer for communities, workers, and the environment. Funding recipients include:
    • the Government of Northwest Territories to:
      • purchase 4 double-hulled barges for use by local communities to minimize fuel spill risks
      • replace a petroleum product transfer pipeline
      • upgrade petroleum storage infrastructure
      • repair moorings used to secure barges for safer sealift and resupply operations
      • repair the Norman Wells dock and pier
    • the Government of Nunavut to:
      • study the marine infrastructure needs across the territory's communities
      • place 10 mooring bollards in 5 communities, which will allow vessels to be safely secured next to jetties, wharves, and berths in ports and harbours
      • build a warehouse to store cargo in Iqaluit
      • improve sealift areas
      • relocate equipment for safe petroleum product transfer
      • replace pipelines to increase safety and efficiency of petroleum product transfer
      • install mooring bollards to promote safer sealift and resupply operations
      • buy equipment to improve communication and documentation for sealift and resupply operations
    • The Government of Nunavik (Inuit territory in northern Quebec) to install bollards and equipment, replace pipelines for safer sealift/resupply operations, and upgrade equipment for petroleum product transfer in 13 communities
    • The Government of Nunatsiavut (Inuit territory in Labrador) to build infrastructure to promote safe freight storage in 3 communities

Responding to marine incidents

 

In the 1970s, there was a major oil spill in Canada almost every two weeks. By 2017, there have been roughly 1.7 spills per year in Canada. This large decrease has happened despite the fact that more oil than ever is being transported by water, and vessels are getting larger and are carrying more oil onboard. Canada's marine safety system has been the difference-maker.

This system must continue to evolve to be as effective at protecting the environment as Canadians expect. As part of the Oceans Protection Plan, we've further improved how Canada responds to marine emergencies. This helps us protect our coasts and Canadians at sea.
To improve our ability to respond to marine incidents, we have:

  • Opened new Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue stations in:
    • Victoria, Hartley Bay, and Tahsis, British Columbia
    • St. Anthony, Old Perlican, and Twillingate, Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Re-established the Canadian Coast Guard's Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, to better coordinate on-the-water responses to maritime search and rescue incidents.
  • Made Canadian Coast Guard's Regional Operations Centres (PDF, 289 KB), which monitor and assess marine incidents (including pollution events), operational 24/7.
    • Centres in the Atlantic, western, central, and Arctic regions already have this ability. The National Command Centre also has a Duty Officer on call 24 hours a day.
    • In the next few months, the National Command Centre will begin operating 24/7 permanently as well (presently 24 hours operations can be activated in case of emergency).
  • Opened a new seasonal inshore rescue boat station—the first station to be staffed by Indigenous students—in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. This decision expands local search and rescue coverage and reduces response times for incidents in local waters.
    • In 2020, the station's operating season was extended. This allowed the station to provide essential search and rescue services to the community during the busy and higher-risk hunting season.
    • Also in 2020, the station responded to 6 search and rescue incidents and conducted 3 search and rescue exercises with local partners.
  • Leased 2 emergency offshore towing vessels, which are capable of towing large commercial ships in distress, for use off the coast of British Columbia.
  • Purchased emergency tow kits for Canadian Coast Guard vessels to improve their ability to tow large disabled vessels.
  • Updated infrastructure at over 130 marine communications and traffic services remote sites across Canada. This work provides better coverage and communications to mariners in remote areas.
  • Invested in new, modern environmental response equipment for the Canadian Coast Guard across Canada, including:
    • curtain booms and fence boom systems, which form a temporary barrier to contain an oil spill. This makes oil recovery easier and helps reduce the spread of oil
    • small- and medium-sized portable skimmers, which are used to collect, separate, and remove oil from the water surface
    • fabric storage tanks for temporary offshore storage of recovered oil spill
    • boom trailers for temporary storage and deployment of curtain boom
    • response trailers to store and transport environmental response equipment to incident sites

Beyond equipment and infrastructure, training and hiring additional personnel has been a focal point for improving response to marine incidents. So far we have: 

  • Trained over 4,500 staff in the internationally recognized Incident Command System at emergency coordination centres, which helps people involved in responding to marine accidents be faster and more effective.
  • Conducted 58 environmental response exercises across the country. These ranged from small-scale workshops and drills to full-scale multi-national exercises involving multiple partners. This practice makes sure Canada is ready to effectively respond if a marine oil spills occurs.
  • Delivered 46 environmental response training courses to 435 participants, including Indigenous communities, the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, local governments, and other partners. This training helps participants involved in responses to marine accidents be faster and more effective.
  • Worked with members of Indigenous communities on the West Coast to deliver training on marine search and rescue and environmental response. This training improves local capacity to support incident response.
  • Created Primary Environmental Response Teams to strengthen the Canadian Coast Guard's on-scene capacity during marine pollution incidents.
  • Hired Environmental Emergency Officers and Wildlife Emergency Response Coordinators in several regions across Canada to support emergency preparedness and response.
  • Started a student recruitment initiative at high schools, colleges, and universities to hire response officers for the Canadian Coast Guard's Environmental Response Program.

Other actions taken to improve marine incident response include:

  • Developed a National Wildlife Emergency Response Framework to collect new ecological data and spatial layers into emergency preparedness and response planning.
  • Worked with Indigenous communities in British Columbia to pre-identify potential places of refuge, which are safe places where ships that need help can stabilize their condition. Identifying these places ultimately reduces hazards to navigation, human life, and the environment.

Preserving and restoring marine ecosystems

 

Canada has the longest coastline in the world, serving as a home to rich biodiversity and precious ecosystems. These are places we must keep safe, so that our grandchildren may enjoy them. The protection and restoration of the environment is a top priority of the Government of Canada.
To preserve and restore marine ecosystems vulnerable to marine activities, we have:

  • Funded over 60 projects, worth over $70 million, to restore coastal aquatic habitats through the Coastal Restoration Fund. These projects reduce stressors that affect marine life and their habitats and have long-term health benefits. Some projects include:
    • over $20 million committed for 25 projects across British Columbia to restore coastal aquatic habitats that help key species like Chinook salmon and the endangered Southern Resident killer whale.
    • nearly $1.2 million in funding for the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq to restore coastal habitats along the Northumberland Strait and the Bay of Fundy.
    • more than $2 million in funding for the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council, the St. Mary's River Association, and the Nova Scotia Salmon Association to help restore coastal habitats across Atlantic Canada.
  • Started working with Indigenous peoples, local stakeholders, and coastal communities to assess the cumulative effects of marine shipping in 6 pilot sites across the country. This work is informing a National Framework for Assessing the Cumulative Effects of Marine Shipping.
  • Fishery Officers spent more than 11,938 hours responding to marine mammal incidents in 2020, and spent more than 8,876 hours monitoring marine protected areas and marine refuges.
  • Trained and equipped Fishery Officers on every coast to support experts responding to marine mammals in distress.
  • Undertook over 1,500 hours of marine mammal surveillance under Transport Canada's National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP). Thanks to NASP surveillance, vessels can slow down or avoid areas where marine mammals have been detected in the water and endangered species, like the North Atlantic right whale and the Southern Resident killer whale, can be safer with less net entanglement and fewer collisions with vessels.
  • Continued to fund the Canadian Chair at the World Maritime University to support international marine environmental protection and Canada's coastal and ocean agenda.

Abandoned or wrecked vessels are a growing problem across Canada, and threaten not only marine ecosystems but navigation as well. Steps taken to address this issue include: 

  • Funded over 400 projects as part of the Abandoned Boats Program to remove and dispose of boats that reduce hazards to navigation in our waters across the country.
  • Funded 5 public education projects aimed at raising awareness about boat owner responsibility, including proper end-of-life management practices.
  • Funded 3 research projects on environmentally responsible boat design and recycling of end-of-life boats.
  • Funded 95 projects as part of the Small Craft Harbours Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program to help protect Canada's marine environment and improve marine safety in Canada's small craft harbours.
    • So far, 89 vessels have been removed and disposed from federally-owned small craft harbours across Canada, surpassing the target of 50 boats by 2022.
  • Advanced the National Strategy on Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels by:
    • bringing the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act into force in July 2019, which protects our coast and shorelines by:
    • developing a national inventory of wrecked, abandoned, or hazardous vessels in Canadian waters and a risk assessment method to prioritize these vessels
    • completing initial consultations on proposed changes to vessel owner identification systems, including new service fees
    • exploring options to create a long-term vessel remediation fund, financed by owners, to help cover the costs to assess and address wrecked, abandoned, or hazardous vessels
  • Funded research into new, economically viable and ecologically sustainable ways to recycle or reuse fiberglass used to construct pleasure craft hulls through the Innovative Solutions Canada program. Three recipients received funding for phase 1 of the program and 2 recipients received phase 2 funding to develop a prototype. Final reports on the second phase are expected in early 2022.
 

Indigenous partnerships

 

Indigenous communities have unique historical and cultural ties to Canada's oceans that span generations. As part of the Oceans Protection Plan, we're partnering with Indigenous peoples across the country to improve our marine safety system. As of March 2021, we have held over 1,600 engagement sessions, including over 1,199 engagement sessions with Indigenous groups, to modernize marine safety and environmental protection in Canada.
Together, we have:

  • Created the Marine Training Program to help underrepresented groups (Indigenous peoples, Northerners, and women) access marine training. The program is offered at the:
    • British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), in partnership with Camosun College has seen 67 students complete the Bridge Watch Rating Program.
    • Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium has seen 150 students graduate their program.
    • Nova Scotia Community College has seen 4 students graduate so far.
 
  • Signed the first-ever Reconciliation Framework Agreement For Bioregional Oceans Management and Protection between the Government of Canada and 14 Pacific North Coast Nations in British Columbia to better coordinate and collaborate on solutions to local ocean issues.
  • Signed the Oceans Protection Plan Commitment to Action and Results,between the Government of Canada and the First Nations Fisheries Council, to support First Nations involvement in the rollout of the Oceans Protection Plan on the South Coast of British Columbia.
  • Provided $3.7 million to 16 Northern and Indigenous communities to buy search and rescue boats and equipment, improving their ability to participate as members of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.
  • Delivered training in emergency response and waterway management to Indigenous communities and provincial government employees to help them play an important role in marine safety in their communities.
  • Co-launched the Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary in the territorial waters of Ahousaht and Heiltsuk First Nations.
  • Increased financial support and spending flexibility for the Arctic Coast Guard Auxiliary chapter to allow them to continue to build search and rescue capacity in the North.
  • Approved $5.8 million through the Indigenous and Local Communities Engagement and Partnership Program for 21 projects with Indigenous groups across the country. This funding supports their ongoing, long-term engagement and partnership on Oceans Protection Plan measures.
  • Provided $4.1 million through the Community Participation Funding Program to support Indigenous and local community participation in developing and improving Canada's marine transportation system.
  • Hosted the ninth OPP Dialogue Forum in February 2021, for the first time in a virtual setting. Attendance exceeded expectations with 412 stakeholders and partners participating.

Building a stronger scientific evidence base

Video transcript - Keeping mariners and our environment safe (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

We're using cutting-edge technology to make navigating our oceans safer. Through the Oceans Protection Plan, we are increasing the number of surveys in 23 priority areas on all three coasts. From Saint-John, NB to Prince Rupert, BC, and all along the Arctic coast, we're using sonar and GPS to update navigation charts. Through technology and innovation, we are keeping mariners and our environment safe.

 

Science is the cornerstone of evidence-based decision-making. As part of the Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada has invested in scientific research and technology to help us better prevent and respond to ship-source oil spills, while also increasing our understanding of how to protect coastal ecosystems.

So far, we have:

  • Improved our understanding of alternative spill response measures that reduce the concentration of any oil spilled, while supporting natural processes to break down the oil. The Multi-Partner Research Initiative has funded over 30 projects looking at spill treating agents, oily waste disposal, and more.
  • Funded oil spill research, especially on Canadian oil products, to better understand how oil behaves and breaks down in different marine conditions.
  • Improved access to high-quality, real-time or near real-time data on our marine environment by funding Ocean Networks Canada, which operates several ocean observatories at the University of Victoria.
  • Developed new coastal ocean, wave, and ice forecasts across Canada's 3 coastlines to support emergency spill responders through improved drift estimates.
  • Improved an emergency responder's ability to accurately track spills and predict their path by developing metrics to measure the uncertainty of trajectory forecasts.
  • Funded projects on ubstance drift prediction modelling to help better predict the trajectory of drifting objects or substances (like spilled oil, drifting vessels, whale carcasses, or people who need help).
  • Worked with Indigenous and coastal communities and marine stakeholders on more than 50 projects to collect scientific baseline data at 6 coastal sites across Canada. This data, gathered through the Coastal Environmental Baseline Program, helps create a record of these important areas, detect changes in them over time, and support future evidence-based assessments and management decisions.
  • Conducted ground surveys of priority shorelines across Canada to better understand the current environmental conditions. These surveys will inform future evidence-based decisions to protect our marine environments and communities from potential spills.
  • Held annual Technical Seminar on Environmental Contamination and Response that brought together international researchers and technicians to collaborate and identify best practices in research, preparedness, and response.

Canada's whales are iconic and breathtaking animals which are a vital part of our marine ecosystems. Investment in science and research contribute to the increased protection of these extraordinary creatures.

  • Funded several research projects into technologies that can detect the presence of whales in near-real time, reducing the potential for whale strikes. These projects include:
    • implementing a vessel-based, infrared camera system to detect whales and reduce the risk of vessel collisions with whales
    • using gliders with underwater microphones to detect North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Roseway Basin
    • evaluating the use of land-based infrared cameras in British Columbia to detect whales
  • Increased our use of world-renowned digital hydrophone and oceanographic technologies to better understand the underwater acoustic environment. What we learn through these technologies will help us create strategies to protect marine mammals from harmful noise.
  • Funded several research projects to better understand the impact of shipping-related noise on whales, including:
    • a comprehensive health and condition assessment of Southern and Northern Resident killer whales to better understand how they're impacted by different environmental stressors, including noise.
    • how noise impacts Southern Resident killer whales' ability to use echolocation to detect their prey, as well as how underwater noise impacts Chinook salmon (their primary food source).

The Whales Initiative: Protecting Canada's endangered whale populations

 

Building on the Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada announced additional funds to protect Canada's endangered whale populations in 2018. The $167.4 million Whales Initiative supports the recovery of Southern Resident killer whales, North Atlantic right whales, and St. Lawrence Estuary belugas by increasing research and monitoring activities and taking action to address key threats. An extra $61.5 million was also committed to put in place new measures that improve protections for Southern Resident killer whales.

With these funds, we have:

  • Protected North Atlantic right whales by:
    • introducing vessel traffic management measures like speed limits;
    • managing fisheries, including temporarily closing fishing areas in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, particularly in the Gulf of St. Lawrence;
    • continuing our North Atlantic right whale monitoring and surveillance activities, which includes aerial surveillance, at-sea surveillance, and acoustic technology;
    • tracking fishing gear through new gear marking requirements for all fixed gear fisheries in Atlantic Canada and Quebec;
    • encouraging companies to develop ropeless fishing and “whale safe” gear to minimize or eliminate the risk of marine mammals, including right whales, becoming tangled; and
    • reducing contaminants that affect whales and their prey.
  • Protected Southern Resident killer whales by:
    • placing a voluntary vessel slowdown in Haro Strait and Boundary Pass, British Columbia, as well as trialed a slowdown in Swiftsure Bank. These measures were done in partnership with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority's Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program;
    • asking in-shore vessels to avoid important feeding areas for Southern Resident killer whales in the Strait of Juan de Fuca;
    • creating 3 seasonal Interim Sanctuary Zones in the critical habitat for Southern Resident killer whales during 2019 and 2020;
    • increasing the killer whale approach distance from 200 metres to 400 metres on the West Coast through an Interim Order under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001
    • signing agreements with key marine shipping industry stakeholders that operate in the Salish Sea to reduce threats to Southern Resident killer whales and put in place stewardship actions; and
    • temporarily closing recreational fishing and commercial salmon fishing in key foraging areas for Southern Resident killer whales.
  • Updated the Marine Mammal Regulations with new measures to protect marine mammals, including:
    • minimum 100-metre approach distance for most whales, dolphins, and porpoises;
    • minimum 200-metre distance for killer whales in British Columbia and the Pacific Ocean; and
    • minimum 400-metre approach distance for threatened or endangered species, such as the St-Laurence Estuary beluga.
  • Continued to support the Marine Mammal Response Program, including within Indigenous communities. Specifically:
    • provided $1 million annually to support marine mammal response organizations across Canada. This included signing 5 contracts with expert response organizations
    • dedicated $4.5 million over four years through the Whales Initiative Capacity Building Fund to increase our ability to respond to incidents safely and effectively. This fund has been used to support key partners over the last 3 years, including large whale disentanglement groups
    • created the National Necropsy Fund to support necropsies across Canada, prioritizing large whales and species listed in the Species At Risk Act
    • created a Large Whale Disentanglement Advisory Committee, through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, to develop protocols to identify and authorize expert disentanglers, determine succession planning and training standards, and create a disentangler evaluation and recognition process.
  • Increased the number of fishery officers on the water to verify compliance with various measures and regulations. These include fisheries management measures, Marine Mammal Regulations, and to enforce the disturbance and harassment sections of the regulations and Species at Risk Act prohibitions.
  • Increased research and monitoring of contaminants to improve our understanding of their sources and possible impacts on whales and their food sources.
  • Increased public awareness of at-risk whales and best practices when boating around whales through social media, partnerships with outreach and education organizations, and other public engagement.
  • Launched, through JASCO Applied Sciences, a world-class underwater listening station in Boundary Pass, near Saturna Island, which now serves as one of the largest sources of data for underwater noise in the world. They have been able to record underwater noise emissions from over 10,000 commercial vessels that frequent British Columbia's southern ports.
 

Thank you for learning about the Oceans Protection Plan. We would like your feedback on what you think has worked well, what could be improved, and what work is left to be done on our Let's Talk-Oceans Protection Plan site. If you would like to read more about how we are protecting Our Coasts and the incredible work being accomplished across the country, subscribe to our quarterly Oceans Protection Plan e-newsletter.