Attendance was strong at the Chamber of Shipping’s Annual General Meeting on March 13 in Vancouver. Prior to providing the setting for a visit from the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport Canada, Bonnie Gee, Vice President led guests through the official part of the meeting, including the acclamation of directors for returning for another two year term – Bruce Chappell (Westward Shipping Lines), Kim Christensen (ACGI Shipping), George Runyon (Evergreen Shipping) and Oscar Pinto (Valles Steamship).
In providing his President’s report, Robert Lewis-Manning summarized the many pressures on industry through government regulations. “There has been an ideological change in how we are managing our coast,” he said. “And it’s manifesting itself in policies that the government is implementing through the Oceans Protection Plan and other acts and regulations.” In addition to the OPP, he highlighted Bill C-44 (the Oil Moratorium Act); Petronas announced it was cancelling its Pacific Northwest LNG project; Bill C-55 (the Ocean’s Act) which proposes major changes, including how marine protected areas are established and restrictions on activities; Bill C-69 (the Environmental Assessment Act) that could potentially complicate the approval of large projects; the Species at Risk Act which has become very prominent for shipping, as evidenced by the slowdown trial for noise studies on whales.
In his remarks to guests, Minister Garneau announced a number of new initiatives to be funded as part of the Oceans Protection Plan, including the launch of pilot projects for the Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness initiative on British Columbia’s North Coast and investing in measures to reduce the underwater noise impacting Southern Resident Killer Whales.
As part of the Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness initiative, the Haida Nation and the Gitga’at Nation will host pilot projects, beginning in fall 2018 and concluding in fall 2019. The two Nations will work with Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard and other federal departments to develop, test and evaluate a new marine awareness information system. This system will provide coastal partners, including Indigenous peoples, provincial governments, scientific non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders, with essential maritime information, including near real-time data on ship traffic. They are the first of up to nine communities that will host pilot versions of the new system across the three coasts.
Minister Garneau also announced that, following an open, competitive process, Aqua-Guard Spill Response Inc., from North Vancouver, British Columbia, has been awarded a $1.2M contract for new marine environment response equipment, specifically multi-cassette portable skimmer packages. The Canadian Coast Guard uses portable skimmers to recover marine pollution spills and reduce the potential impact to shorelines and other natural resources.
In addition, Budget 2018 announced more than $167 million to help the Government of Canada better understand risks to whales, including the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale. This budget funding will allow the Government of Canada to take the next steps needed to research and take action to address the impacts of human activities on Canada’s endangered whales. Working together with industry stakeholders, Indigenous groups, environmental stakeholders, academia, the scientific community and international partners, we will identify, test, and implement regulatory and other measures to reduce underwater noise from vessels.