February 26, 2010 18:39 ET

Government of Canada Takes Action to Enhance Safety and Protect Arctic Waters

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 26, 2010) - Canada's Transport Minister John Baird today announced that as part of Canada's Northern Strategy, the federal government is proposing a regulated Arctic traffic zone, requiring certain vessels to report information to authorities as they pass through Canada's northern waters.

The new measures will help to ensure efficient navigation, enhance the safety of vessels, crew and passengers, and protect the unique and fragile Arctic marine environment. They are intended to replace the current voluntary reporting system and ensure that the most effective services and information are available to manage current and future marine traffic in the Arctic. 

"Mandatory vessel reporting will help keep maritime traffic moving safely and efficiently," said Baird. "Knowing the positions and movements of vessels, for example, will make it easier to respond quickly to an oil spill. This information will become more important as vessel traffic rises due to development in the Arctic."

The proposed regulations would require vessels to report information such as identity and intended route before entering, while operating within and when leaving Canada's northern waters. By identifying and monitoring vessels, the Canadian Coast Guard would be able to provide vessel traffic services to help prevent pollution and better coordinate both pollution response and search and rescue.

"Our government is committed to vessel safety and pollution prevention in our Arctic waters," said the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. "The proposed new measures are designed to help ensure safety while maintaining the most effective services for current and future levels of marine traffic."

The proposed regulations would apply to both Canadian and foreign vessels, and are consistent with international law regarding ice-covered areas.

The proposed Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone Regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on February 27, 2010. After consideration of the comments received, Transport Canada will proceed to final approval and publication in the Canada Gazette, Part II, with a proposed coming into force date of July 1, 2010.

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Contact Information

  • James Kusie
    Director of Issues Management
    and Parliamentary Affairs
    Office of Canada’s Transport Minister
    John Baird, Ottawa
    Media Relations
    Transport Canada, Ottawa
    Nancy Bishay
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    Media Relations
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada