Area Response Planning Initiative

The Area Response Planning (ARP) Initiative ran from 2014 to 2017. The overall goal was to make Canada’s marine safety system stronger by doing more to protect Canada’s marine environment and communities from the harmful effects of ship-source oil spills.

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About the initiative

The Area Response Planning initiative aimed to find the best way to help communities develop response plans for oil spills.

The approach shifted from “one size fits all” to reflect the risks and conditions specific to a geographic area. To help inform decision-making, the process incorporated scientific information and engaged a broad range of stakeholders.

Pilot projects were initiated in four areas across Canada:

  • Southern British Columbia (BC)
  • The St. Lawrence (QC)
  • Port Hawkesbury (NS), and
  • The Bay of Fundy (NB)

The Canadian Coast Guard led the development of the planning process for risk-based response plans in the four pilot areas.

Transport Canada led the development of an area risk assessment methodology and tested it in the four pilot areas.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada contributed scientific information, including data on physical, biological and socio-economic sensitivities.

Information-gathering for the initiative concluded in summer 2017; however, work continues in the pilot areas to support environmental response planning activities.

Area Risk Assessment

Designed to identify the risk of a ship-source oil spill, the area risk assessment methodology consists of three steps:

  • determining the probability of an oil spill
  • modelling an oil spill, and
  • evaluating environmental sensitivities

After the methodology was tested, detailed risk results were generated for the 4 ARP pilot areas.

The four risk assessment reports are now available.

Please contact to get a copy of any of these reports.

Lessons Learned

A report consolidating the lessons learned from the ARP pilot projects has been completed. The report includes recommendations for Regional Response Planning (RRP).

RRP is an initiative under the Oceans Protection Plan that will expand on the scope of ARP to include incorporating additional sources of marine pollution (including all sizes of vessels), enhancing collaboration with Indigenous and coastal communities, and increasing integration with existing marine planning and management mechanisms.

Regional Risk Assessment

Similar to, and building upon the Area Risk Assessment, a Regional Risk Assessment of a ship-source oil spill was produced for the Northern Shelf Bioregion of British Columbia in 2019.

The methodology and Northern B.C. regional risk assessment reports are now available.

Please contact to get a copy of these reports.

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