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.

This report is a summary of the first five years of the Oceans Protection Plan, from November 2016 to March 2022. Visit the Protecting our coasts: Oceans Protection Plan to learn more about what we will be doing over the next nine years.

About 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. 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:

Safer marine traffic


An effective marine safety system prevents marine incidents and ship-source pollution, responds quickly when they occur, 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, our marine safety system is even stronger by using new scientific research, technology, and equipment. We've also greatly benefitted from engaging and forming partnerships with Indigenous Peoples, the marine industry, and scientists.

To improve marine safety, 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 that unlimited compensation is available to those affected and compensation can be provided 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 safely 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
  • supported 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

Passing new legislation isn’t the only step 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 operate their vessels more safely, using the latest information from the Canadian Hydrographic Service

    This work includes:

    • increased the area of the Arctic Ocean surveyed to modern standards by 112,000 square kilometres.

    • completed hydrographic surveys for 23 high-priority commercial ports and released 49 new or updated Electronic Navigation Charts (ENCs)

    • increased the modern hydrographic coverage in the Arctic’s primary and secondary low impact shipping corridors from 30.7% to 42.6%

    • completed multiple LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and multi-beam surveys for high-risk near-shore areas on the coasts of:

      • British Columbia

      • Newfoundland and Labrador

      • the Gulf of St. Lawrence

      • the Great Lakes Basin

    • developed new and improved capabilities as a foundation to providing mariners with dynamic electronic navigational services, including high resolution bathymetry and forecast water levels and surface currents, based on both the development of state-of-the-art, high resolution port and waterway models for:

      • Kitimat

      • Vancouver

      • Fraser River

      • Straits of Canso

      • Saint John

      • the St. Lawrence River Quebec City-Montreal Corridor

    • refurbished 98 existing tide and water level monitoring stations. This included new electronics, sensors and new or refurbished infrastructure (buildings, stilling wells, mounts) to provide improved data quality, availability, and level of service

    • developed and released the Integrated Water Level Service (IWLS) - a web and app-based platform to provide public users with near real-time, standardized, and automated quality-controlled water levels and current data.

  • 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
  • improved weather services for mariners by developing local forecasts for 12 to 24 hour 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 work also includes:

    • deploying 5 new, state-of-the-art weather buoys: 2 in Nova Scotia's Strait of Canso, 1 in New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy, and 2 in British Columbia's Strait of Georgia. While deployed, the buoys collect and transmit hourly weather and wave data 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

    • launching a Marine Weather Information Services website that lists local forecasts, buoy data, and forecaster notes

    • under the Anchorages Initiative, conducted outreach with coastal communities and Indigenous communities and gathered feedback from key partners on managing anchorages outside of public ports in southern British Columbia and implemented the Interim Protocol for the Use of Southern British Columbia Anchorages in February 2018 to respond to community concerns of large vessels at anchor outside of port authorities. Work on anchorages in Southern British Columbia continues through the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Active Vessel Traffic Management initiative

Several actions have been taken to strengthen Canada’s ability to improve marine safety to prevent marine accidents and ship-sourced pollution specifically in Canada’s North. We:

  • introduced the 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
  • are providing funding through the Safety Equipment and Basic Marine Infrastructure in 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 to facilitate safer delivery of goods, including fuel, to local communities
      • replace a petroleum product transfer pipeline
      • upgrade petroleum storage infrastructure
    • the Government of Nunavut to:
      • study marine infrastructure needs across the territory's communities
      • install mooring bollards in 5 communities, which will allow vessels to be safely secured during sealift and resupply operations
      • build a warehouse to safely and securely store cargo in Iqaluit
      • improve sealift areas in 9 communities
      • relocate equipment for safer petroleum product transfer
      • replace pipelines to increase safety and efficiency of petroleum product transfer
      • purchase equipment to improve the safety of petroleum resupply operations
    • the Fédération des coopératives du Nouveau-Québec to:
      •  install bollards and equipment
      • replace pipelines for safer sealift/resupply operations, and
      • upgrade equipment for petroleum product transfer in 13 communities in Nunavik (Inuit territory in northern Quebec)
    • the Government of Nunatsiavut (Inuit territory in Labrador) to build infrastructure to promote safe freight storage in 3 communities

There is more work to be done. The next phase of the Oceans Protection Plan has begun and here is what we are doing on marine safety.

Stronger incident prevention and response


Canada's oceans and waterways are a source of inspiration and pride for Canadians and Indigenous Peoples. The Government of Canada recognizes that we need more measures so we can effectively prevent marine accidents and ship-source pollution incidents from happening.

There hasn’t been a major spill in Canadian waters in the past 40 years. Globally, major oil spills (those over 700 tons) have decreased steadily over the last 40 years. In the 1970s, there was approximately a major spill every two weeks. Since 2017, there has been an average of 1.7 spills per year. This significant decrease has occurred despite the fact that the movement of oil via vessels have increased and vessels are getting larger, and able to carry more oil onboard.

Our efficient response to emergencies must continue to evolve to be as effective at responding to mariners in distress and threats to the marine environment as Canadians and Indigenous Peoples expect and deserve. 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:

  • updated infrastructure at over 130 marine communications and traffic services remote sites across Canada. This work provides better communications coverage to mariners in remote areas, including:
    • 91 back-up links nationally to provide better coverage and communications to mariners in remote areas
  • created four Marine Communications and Traffic Services regional training officers to support requirements for nationally consistent on-going training and certification. This includes application of the Marine Communications and Traffic Services Quality Management System, which ensures a reliable application of national and international legislative procedures
  • increased the number of trained and certified officers at the 12 Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centres, which strengthens the federal government’s response to all marine emergencies, and increases our capacity to regulate vessel traffic
  • 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, making recovery easier and helping 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.
  • established 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
  • established 24/7 operations at the Canadian Coast Guard's Regional Operations Centres. The centres monitor and assess marine incidents (including pollution events)
    • The National Command Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, is now permanently operating 24/7 (previously the centre was only able to operate 24/7 during an emergency)
  • extended the Canadian Coast Guard's annual Arctic operational season to help mariners both earlier and later in the navigation season
  • opened a new seasonal inshore rescue boat station—the first station to be staffed by Indigenous students—in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. This station 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
    • in 2021, the in Rankin Inlet crew carried out 4 training exercises, responded to 3 search and rescue cases, and travelled over 854.3 nautical miles. Also in 2020, the station responded to 6 search and rescue incidents and conducted 3 search and rescue exercises with local partners
    • crews also participated in training, including medical emergency response, seafaring, towing, and developing skills in rough water vessel handling. They also participated in virtual Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit Traditional Knowledge) information sessions led by the Canadian Coast Guard’s Community Engagement Coordinators from various communities across the North. Crews increased their local knowledge by participating in Inuktitut language training sessions and by learning local place names, including islands, inlets, and points of land. These Inuktitut names were added to Coast Guard charts and GPS devices on the vessels
  • leased 2 emergency offshore towing vessels, which can tow large commercial ships in distress, for use off the coast of British Columbia
  • bought emergency tow kits for Canadian Coast Guard vessels to improve their ability to tow large disabled vessels

Beyond equipment and infrastructure, training and hiring additional personnel has been a focal point for improving response to marine incidents. Since 2016, 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 emergencies to be more effective
  • completed 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 ensures Canada is ready to effectively respond if a marine oil spill 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 Pacific Coast to deliver training in marine search and rescue, environmental response and the incident command system to more than 500 participants representing more than 50 Indigenous communities. This training improves local capacity to support incident response
  • hired enforcement officers to enhance capacity on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to hold polluters responsible

Other actions taken to improve marine incident response include:

  • developed tools to predict currents and drift patterns for Canadian ports and nearshore waters to improve estimates of oil spill trajectories
  • published new scientific information on the fate and behaviour of oil products shipped in Canada when spilled over a range of ocean conditions
  • improved science-based evidence and national expertise to strengthen Canada’s oil spill preparedness and response system
  • supported the development and education of highly qualified personnel in oil spill research and response

There is more work to be done. The next phase of the Oceans Protection Plan has begun and here is what we are doing on stronger incident prevention and response.

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 children, grandchildren and generations to come 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 human 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 in funding was committed for 25 projects across British Columbia to restore coastal aquatic habitats that help key species like Chinook salmon and the 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
  • dedicated $4.5 million over four years through the Marine Mammal Response Program Capacity Building Fund to increase our ability to respond to marine mammal incidents safely and effectively. This fund has been used to support key partners, including Indigenous Groups and large whale disentanglement groups, on all coasts
    • this fund has addressed equipment, gear, and training needs to ensure safe response; built capacity among local Indigenous communities on all three coasts; and addressed gaps in marine mammal response across Canada, in particular the Gulf of St. Lawrence
  • worked with 78 Indigenous groups to study the impacts of marine shipping on the environment and on Indigenous communities
  • worked collaboratively with Indigenous Peoples, coastal communities, and local stakeholders to assess the cumulative effects of marine shipping in 6 regional assessment sites across the country. This work has informed the newly published National Framework For Assessing The Cumulative Effects of Marine Shipping ( document. The projects we’ve completed are listed below:
    • in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, we identified mitigation and management measures for vessel activity in Cambridge Bay in collaboration with our Inuit partners and the Victoria Island Waterway Safety Committee, by bringing together local Indigenous knowledge and Western science
    • in Quebec, we worked with Indigenous Peoples, the Quebec government, and the marine industry to complete the assessment of cumulative effects of marine vessel activities on biophysical components, and launched assessment of cumulative effects of marine vessel activities on social-cultural values of Indigenous communities
    • on the north coast of British Columbia, we worked with 14 Pacific north coast First Nations through the Reconciliation Framework Agreement to assess the cumulative effects of marine shipping on values identified by the First Nations
    • on the south coast of British Columbia, we developed a regional partnership agreement with the British Columbia First Nations Fisheries Council to support both regional and local assessments
    • in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, we worked with the marine industry and Indigenous Peoples to initiate the assessment of the cumulative effects of marine shipping
    • in the Bay of Fundy, we worked with Indigenous Peoples, while allowing for flexibility and adaptability of timelines for project implementation, and engaged in discussions to begin scoping the assessment of the cumulative effects of marine shipping
  • collected baseline information on shorelines and marine birds in northern British Columbia to understand habitat use and threats. This includes:
    • 25,000 km of coastal shoreline aerial imagery
    • more than 1,200 km of at-sea marine bird survey data
    • GPS tracking studies of the seasonal movements of eight priority marine bird species
    • an assessment of diluted bitumen toxicity to birds
    • an initial assessment of costs and benefits to birds of applying spill-treating agents
    • tracking migrating shorebirds at key sites using a new digital tracking network
  • from April 2017 to March 2021, Fisheries and Oceans Canada fishery officers spent more than 44,701 hours responding to marine mammal incidents, and more than 15,074 hours monitoring marine protected areas
    • 40 coastal detachments each have at least one trained and equipped fishery officers to safely 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 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
  • funded northern organizations to participate in discussions on the use and transportation of heavy fuel oils in the Arctic
  • hired Environmental Emergency Officers and Wildlife Emergency Response Coordinators in several regions across Canada to support emergency preparedness and response. Hired enforcement officers to enhance capacity on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to hold polluters to account
  • developed a National Wildlife Emergency Response Framework to establish a national policy, as well as standardized guidance for government, industry, and supporting response organizations for their respective roles in implementing various aspects of wildlife response activities

Under the Oceans Protection Plan, the Government announced a strategy to address abandoned and wrecked vessels. This strategy includes the Abandoned Boats Program (ABP) at Transport Canada and the Small Craft Harbours Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


We have:

  • funded almost 500 projects to remove, dispose and address the growing number of identified wrecked, abandoned or hazardous wrecked vessels that threaten marine ecosystems, navigation, local economies, and public safety. These were part of the Abandoned Boats Program and the Small Craft Harbours Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program. We also took steps on abandoned and wrecked vessels to:
  • brought the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act into force in July 2019, which protects our coast and shorelines by:
  • 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 and the Abandoned Boats Program:
    • 3 recipients received funding for phase 1 of the program and two recipients received phase 2 funding to develop a prototype. Final reports on prototype development were received in early 2022
    • 3 recipients received funding under the Abandoned Boats Program Research component. Of those, one project is still underway, and two projects were completed and generated a market study around fiberglass boat recycling solutions, other potential solutions to the recycling issue and dissembling processes development
  • developed a national inventory of wrecked, abandoned or hazardous vessels in Canadian waters and a risk assessment method to prioritize these vessels
  • completed initial consultations on proposed changes to vessel owner identification systems, including new service fees
  • completed initial consultations on a proposed regulatory charge, which would be paid by vessel owners, to finance a long-term vessel remediation fund to help cover the costs to assess and address wrecked, abandoned, or hazardous vessels

There is more work to be done. The next phase of the Oceans Protection Plan has begun and here is what we are doing on better protected coastal ecosystems.

Stronger partnerships with Indigenous and coastal communities


Indigenous communities have historical, cultural, and economic ties to Canada's oceans that span generations. As part of the Oceans Protection Plan, we’ve partnered with Indigenous Peoples across the country to improve our marine safety system.

As part of the first phase of the Oceans Protection Plan, we held over 2,300 engagement sessions, including over 1,800 engagement sessions with Indigenous Peoples, communities and organizations to work together to modernize marine safety and environmental protections 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, which has seen 173 students graduate from their program since 2019
    • Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium, where 242 students have completed courses since 2018
    • Nova Scotia Community College where since 2019, 342 students have graduated
  • Signed 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 address shared marine safety and environmental protection priorities, and better coordinate and collaborate on solutions to related local ocean issues. Since then, 3 more First Nations have signed the agreement
  • worked with Indigenous partners to co-develop the Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness (EMSA) system. The web based geographic information system improves access to near real-time marine traffic and environmental data to enhance local marine safety, environmental monitoring and protection, and co-manage waterway activity. The system supports local and collaborative planning, analysis and informed decision-making for Indigenous partners, coastal communities and other partners among the marine space. Data available through the EMSA system includes vessel traffic, weather, hydrography, sensitive ecological areas, and local historical knowledge of the waterways. Layers of data representing local historical knowledge can be used while keeping this information private to a local community or user, or disseminated selectively to others by the local community or user
    • in 2020, Transport Canada ran 55 demos and 57 training sessions to improve and encourage use of the EMSA system. To date, over 700 licenses have been issued to Indigenous partners, coastal communities, and stakeholders across Canada
    • provided, from 2018 until March 31, 2022, nearly $11 million in funding for 24 EMSA-related consultation projects with Indigenous communities, research organizations and port authorities
    • through the next phase of the Oceans Protection Plan, EMSA will continue to grow the number of Indigenous community partnerships and be integrated into other Oceans Protection Plan initiatives. The system itself will also be enhanced to further improve marine safety, environmental monitoring, and protection
  • signed the Oceans Protection Plan Commitment to Action and Results, between the Government of Canada and the First Nations Fisheries Council of British Columbia, to support First Nations involvement in the rollout of the Oceans Protection Plan on the South Coast of British Columbia
  • provided funding to 40 Indigenous communities to buy search and rescue boats and equipment, improving their ability to participate in marine emergency response as members of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary
  • 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
    • issuing a Notice to Mariners in the Beaufort Sea and Amundsen Gulf within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Northwest Territories that aims to minimize the risks of vessel collisions and potential impacts of underwater noise on beluga and bowhead whales
    • implementing the Voluntary Protection Zone for Shipping 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
    • finished and released a regional risk assessment to identify and analyze the risk of ship-source oil spills in northern British Columbia
    • bought tools and trained workers so they can complete marine shipping-related risk assessments in coastal areas
  • delivered training in emergency response and waterway management to Indigenous communities and provincial governments to support their important role in marine safety in their communities
  • co-launched the Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary, the first Indigenous led Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary chapter, who now has units in eight First Nations communities along the British Columbia coast. 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
  • since 2018, provided $5.8 million in funding through the Indigenous and Local Communities Engagement and Partnership Program for 21 projects with Indigenous organizations across the country. This funding supports their ongoing, long-term engagement and partnership on Oceans Protection Plan initiatives
  • provided $4.5 million in funding through the Community Participation Funding Program to support Indigenous and local community participation in engagement sessions and related activities on a wide range of Oceans Protection Plan initiatives
  • hosted 10 dialogue forums for Indigenous Partners, marine stakeholders and government representatives

The 10th forum was held virtually in February 2022 with over 400 participants.

There is more work to be done. The next phase of the Oceans Protection Plan has begun and here is what we are doing on stronger partnerships with Indigenous and coastal communities.

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 better protect coastal ecosystems.

So far, we have:

  • improved our understanding of alternative spill response measures to respond to oil spilled in the marine environment, 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
  • posted an Intentions Paper to provide information and seek feedback on the potential legislative amendments that would be required to put in place some alternative response measures
  • improved the transfer of scientific information on oil spill remediation to the scientific and response community to help them improve spill response tactics and minimize the environmental impact of a spill. This includes:
  • 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 drift prediction modelling to help better predict the route of drifting objects or substances (like spilled oil, over-board debris and containers, drifting vessels, whale carcasses, or people who need help)
  • worked with more than 40 different Indigenous communities and organizations, coastal communities and marine stakeholders on more than 60 projects to collect ecological 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 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 an 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. The Proceedings of this Seminar have evolved into a unique collection of papers on environmental topics related to oil and chemical spills
  • established a global network to advance oil spill research and strengthen Canada’s preparedness and response capability. The research network includes over 300 researchers and has published over 200 peer-reviewed scientific publications

Thank you for learning about the first five years of the Oceans Protection Plan. We have started the next phase of the Oceans Protection Plan and 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.