Lines of Inquiry: Arctic

These Lines of Inquiry were intended to provide general structure to the Panel's review and draw out information and perspectives through written submissions or face-to-face discussions that would be useful in the Panel's deliberations. The Panel was not limited to considering questions outlined in these Lines of Inquiry.

For the purposes of gathering views and information for the Arctic review, the Panel considered the waters north of 60° north latitude, including the Mackenzie River and Delta, as well as Great Slave Lake, Hudson Bay, James Bay and Ungava Bay. Throughout this document, these waters may be referred to as 'the Arctic'. The review extends to both Arctic ship-source oil spills and ship-source releases of hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) (i.e., HNS incidents). The review did not extend to preparedness and response to spills that may result from oil and gas exploration or drilling.

The Arctic Environment

  1. The Arctic provides a unique operating environment, both for navigators and regulators. What factors, including future considerations, should be considered while developing spill prevention, preparedness and response requirements for the Arctic?
  2. Are there particularities and/or differences between regions of the Canadian Arctic that should be considered?
  3. Are there sensitive areas where vessel traffic presents particular concerns? Where are they? What makes them sensitive areas?
  4. What mechanisms are in place for outreach and engagement of Northern communities in spill preparedness and response?


  1. What measures and resources are currently in place to prevent marine spills in the Arctic?
  2. What additional navigation support and resources are needed for safe shipping in the Arctic?
  3. What preventative practices could be undertaken at HNS and oil handling facilities and/or during HNS and oil transfers?
  4. What more can shipowners and/or oil handling facility operators do to prevent or reduce potential impacts of incidents?
  5. Should the current practice of overwintering fuel in barges in landfast ice be reconsidered? Why or why not?

Existing Response Capacities

  1. Are the vessels currently operating in the Arctic capable of responding to a spill of their bunkers or oil/HNS cargos? If not what do they need?
  2. What private-sector and public-sector resources are available currently to respond to ship-source spills in the Arctic?
  3. Are there facilities in place in the Arctic to treat or dispose of waste from an oil spill or release of HNS? How could these waste products be dealt with in the event of a spill?
  4. Is there any existing capability in the Arctic to treat wildlife affected by HNS or oil?

Preparedness and Response

  1. What preparedness and response requirements are necessary for the Arctic?
  2. To whom should these requirements apply?
  3. Should the Arctic be treated differently than the parts of the country south of 60° in terms of response capacity and response time requirements? Why or why not?
  4. How should the placement of spill response equipment be determined for the Arctic?
  5. What spill response techniques are appropriate and effective for oil spills and HNS incidents in Arctic waters?
  6. Should the use of dispersants, in-situ burning and other response techniques be permitted in the Arctic if they yield a net environmental benefit?
  7. Are the availability, the frequency and the quality of training and exercises in the Arctic adequate? Who should participate in training and exercises?

Roles, Responsibilities and Legal Framework

  1. Should the regime(s) for Arctic oil spill and HNS incident preparedness and response be structured the same way as the Ship-source Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Regime in place south of 60°?
  2. What should be the role of private stakeholders (e.g., potential polluters, response contractors) in terms of ship-source oil spill or HNS incident preparedness and response in the Arctic?
  3. What should be the role of the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) in ship-source oil spills or HNS incidents in the Arctic?
  4. To what extent and how should local communities participate in spill preparedness and response?
  5. Are there roles for other local parties to play in the response to an oil spill or HNS incident in the Arctic?
  6. Do the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act, Canada Shipping Act 2001, and Marine Liability Act provide an effective basis for a ship-source preparedness and response regime in the Arctic? Are there changes required to create a coherent spill preparedness and response regime?
  7. How could a spill preparedness and response regime for the Arctic be funded?
  8. How could a regulatory preparedness and response regime for the Arctic be overseen and enforced?
  9. What opportunities exist for bilateral, multilateral, or circumpolar cooperation in the Arctic (e.g., Denmark, Alaska, and Arctic Council)? How should this influence Canada's regime?
  10. Are there international best practices (ship-source or other) that should be considered when creating a regime in the Arctic?

Research and Development

  1. Are there gaps in knowledge on the behaviour, fate and effects of oils and HNS in icy waters?
  2. Are there gaps in knowledge on response techniques to address these spills in icy waters?
  3. Who should be responsible for funding and conducting this research?