Cumulative Effects of Marine Shipping

Launched in 2017, the Cumulative Effects of Marine Shipping (CEMS) initiative is part of Canada’s $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, which is providing economic opportunities to Canadians today, while protecting our coasts and waterways for future generations. The Cumulative Effects of Marine Shipping initiative is another way that the Government of Canada is protecting our coasts and waterways.

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The goal of this initiative is to study the potential effects of how marine shipping impacts the environment and coastal communities. It will also establish a national framework for assessing those effects.

Collaborative approach

To support this initiative, local, regional and national engagement sessions were held with:

  • Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis)
  • Coastal communities
  • Port authorities
  • Non-governmental environmental organizations
  • Marine science organizations
  • Academics
  • Industry
  • other government departments

These groups identified seven broad categories of marine vessel activities and their stressors across Canada. Indigenous groups also listed the following concerns on the effects of marine vessel activities in their coastal areas:

  • risks to safety and travelling on the water
  • disruption of migration routes and life cycles
  • contamination and disruption of fishing resources
  • impacts on a Nation’s connections to water and land, transfer of knowledge, and customs, traditions or practices

Pilot areas

As part of this initiative, Transport Canada is working with Indigenous partners and stakeholders in six pilot areas across Canada. Together, we are trying to understand the effects of marine shipping in various coastal areas. These pilot areas include:         

  • North Coast British Columbia
  • South Coast British Columbia
  • St. Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers, Quebec
  • Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
  • Placentia Bay, Newfoundland
  • Cambridge Bay, Nunavut



Draft — National framework for assessing the cumulative effects of marine shipping

(PDF, 1 MB)


Review of cumulative effects management concepts and international frameworks

(PDF, 2.5 MB)



Evaluation of Cumulative Effects Assessment Methodologies for Marine Shipping

(PDF, 8.1 MB)



Cumulative Effects Assessment: Technical Workshop Report

(PDF, 1.5 MB)


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