Transport Canada believes the best way to keep small vessels and small vessel facilities safe and secure is to promote security awareness.
Small vessels often operate near critical infrastructure such as hydro dams, power plants, chemical factories, bridges, and key marine assets such as merchant vessels, ferries or cruise ships, all potentially vulnerable to threats.
The use of small vessels for unlawful activities could put at risk our public safety and security as well as our national commerce, trade and economy. That is why you should know what to do if you see any suspicious activity on or near Canada’s waterways. To learn more about security awareness in Canada, search the internet for: Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre.
In 2008, Transport Canada helped the International Maritime Organization draft voluntary guidelines for small vessels and facilities. These IMO guidelines include specific recommendations for pleasure craft, fishing vessels, commercial passenger and non-passenger vessels, and related facilities. These guidelines will help you plan for security incidents, deliver security awareness programs, and prevent the theft or hijacking of, and unauthorized access to, small vessels.
Sgt. Johnny Drolet, Sûreté du Québec :
The Sûreté du Québec supports Transport Canada’s small vessel safety and security awareness initiatives.
One of the cornerstones of our local policing program is partnership with the people. Public security this greater when the police, citizens and community agencies share responsibilities. This is why the Sûreté du Québec invites you to follow the International Maritime Organization’s voluntary guidelines that encourage you to report suspicious activities to appropriate police services.
The voluntary guidelines are being distributed across Canada. Here in Vancouver, there are nearly 160 kilometres of shoreline and dozens of marinas—something that keeps the Vancouver Police Marine Unit busy year round.
Sgt. Norm Webster, Vancouver Police Marine Unit:
The Vancouver Police Marine Unit investigates any criminal activity around the waterfront. It also regularly conducts boating seminars that explain how to protect your vessel and its contents from theft, and the need for the public to report suspicious activities.
The Vancouver Police Department supports Transport Canada’s small vessel safety and security awareness initiatives. We encourage you to report suspicious activities to your local police.
One area that deserves close attention is the security of our marine facilities. In Richmond, B.C., the Steveston Harbour Authority has developed close relationships with Richmond Fire-Rescue, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Enforcement Branch, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police—ensuring a quick response to any emergency situation.
Steveston Harbour is home to more than 500 fishing vessels. We provide service, safety and security to harbour users. We meet our security objectives through 24/7 foot patrols, fencing, gates, lighting and a closed-circuit TV system.
We also make the Transport Canada Small Vessel and Facility Security Awareness brochures available to Steveston Harbor users.
We encourage all small craft facility stakeholders to follow the International Maritime Organization’s guidelines for marina, port and harbour authorities that contain best practices for safety and security.
It’s also important for harbour authorities to clearly communicate security initiatives to the people using their facilities—for example, parts of the facility that are subject to security conditions, areas of restricted navigation, or local regulations that apply to small vessels.
Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons has been connecting boaters for 70 years and continues to play a major role in Canadian boating culture.
It is a nationwide organization of recreational boating enthusiasts with over 37,000 active members. Their instructors help recreational boaters improve their boating safety and security knowledge, as well as their vessel handling and navigation skills.
Alain Briere, Executive Director, Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons:
The Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons support Transport Canada’s small vessel and facility safety and security initiatives, and we invite you to view related information by visiting the “Resources” link on our website.
We also encourage you to follow the voluntary guidelines published by the International Maritime Organization.
Whether you operate a small fishing vessel, pleasure craft or a small passenger or non-passenger vessel, there are a number of ways you can improve the security of your vessel.
First, be prepared. Make sure your emergency plans include how to respond to potential safety and security incidents.
Second, search your vessel often to make sure nothing suspicious has been placed on board or left behind. If you find something, keep all crew and passengers clear of the item, and report it to local law enforcement.
Finally, make sure your vessel is secure. If possible, keep external doors, hatches and storage areas locked, and disable the engine if leave your vessel for more than a few hours. You might also install a small craft alarm system or over-the-side lighting to help keep unauthorized people off your vessel.
Sgt. Karen Harrington, Ontario Provincial Police:
“The Ontario Provincial Police supports the small vessel safety and security awareness initiatives of Transport Canada. The OPP asks for your support by reporting suspicious activity on or near Ontario waterways. We also invite you to visit our website at www.opp.ca for information on how to contact the OPP, and marine safety tips. By working together we can all do our part for marine security.”
It’s important to remember that people are not suspicious—but behaviour is. But what is considered suspicious behaviour? It could include:
- People trying to gain access to vessels or facilities in ways that are normal;
- Crew size or clothing that is not normal for the type of vessel;
- Crew members that are reluctant to leave the vessel while it’s being serviced;
- A vessel anchored or running without lights in the dark;
- Smaller vessels hovering near a larger vessel;
- Crew members tossing items into or recovering items from the water;
- Unusual diving activity; and
- Vessel owners reluctant to identify themselves to harbour authorities.
Remember, do NOT approach or challenge anyone you think is acting in a suspicious manner. Simply note the details of their behaviour and contact your local police service or the RCMP in your province or territory.
Julie Gagnon, Royal Canadian Mounted Police:
Canada has the longest coastal border in the world. Promoting security awareness is the best way to keep small vessels and small vessel facilities secure. The RCMP Coastal/Airport Watch Program is a community-based awareness program that gives the general public the tools that may help them report suspicious persons, vessels, vehicles and aircraft that may constitute a threat to Canada’s national security.
The RCMP, provincial and municipal police need the marine community and people who live in coastal areas to be their “eyes and ears”. You can make a difference and help keep our communities safe by reporting suspicious activities.
Canada is a maritime nation bounded on three sides by oceans with a coastline of 240,000 km. A 3,700 km bi-national waterway on the southern side makes up a large part of its common border with the United States. Both countries share a commitment to small vessel and facility security.
Rear Admiral Mike Parks, United States Coast Guard:
If you are a tow boat operator, a recreational boater, a fisherman, a marina operator, or otherwise live, work or engage in activities around border waterways that Canada shares with the United States, you should make yourself aware of America's Waterway Watch program. This is a nationwide initiative similar to the well-known and successful Neighborhood Watch program that asks community members to report suspicious activities to local law enforcement agencies.
Thank you for helping keep our shared international waterways safe and secure.
All small vessel and facility stakeholders have a role in making Canada’s waterways safe and secure places to work, live and play.
To view Transport Canada’s Small Vessel and Facility Security Awareness brochures, or to view the International Maritime Organization’s voluntary guidelines for small vessel and facilities, please visit the Transport Canada Marine Security website. Thank you for your assistance in helping to keep our waterways safe and secure.