Oceans Protection Plan Announced

On November 7, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the creation of an Oceans Protection Plan, supported by $1.5 billion in funding over five years, starting in 2017-2018.  As part of this announcement, the Prime Minister also indicated that legislation addressing derelict vessels would be introduced in 2017.

UBCM membership has consistently endorsed resolutions calling for enhanced spill planning and response, including calls for many of the elements that may be partly addressed through the Oceans Protection Plan: a collaborative approach to spill response, restoration of the Canadian Guard complement, and the development of approaches to remove derelict vessels. UBCM has actively advocated on behalf of local governments on these issues, including through a recent submission on marine safety to Transport Canada, as part of the consultations leading up to the announcement of the Oceans Protection Plan.

Elements of the plan include:

  • Improvements to the marine safety system: enhanced Coast Guard response capabilities, and better coordination of emergency response;
  • Ecosystem preservation and restoration: protections for marine mammals, improvements to marine pollution incident response, and investments in preservation and restoration of vulnerable ecosystems;
  • Partnerships with Indigenous and coastal communities, including: more active roles in emergency response and additional opportunities for sharing of local knowledge; and
  • Amendments to the Canadian Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund to ensure that industry–funded compensation is available for those impacted by oil spills.

In addition the announcement included several BC specific elements:

  • Indigenous Community Response Teams offering training for search and rescue, environmental response and incident command;
  • A new regional oil spill response plan for the northern coast;
  • Four new lifeboat stations, six new radars, and a new logistics depot in Port Hardy, to house staff and equipment for spill response; and
  • A five year project with local and regional partners to collect and update baseline data to support stewardship and enhance spill response for the Northern BC Coast.

A detailed costing out of plan elements has not been made available.

Derelict vessels were addressed in the Prime Minister’s announcement with a statement that legislation to be introduced in 2017 will incorporate:

  • Support for the clean-up and removal of smaller high priority vessels and plans to address large commercial vessels; and
  • Additional measures to prevent future derelict vessels.

The announcement of the new Oceans Protection Plan did not reference an anticipated tanker moratorium for the north coast, but federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau has indicated that this will be announced before year’s end.

Shortly following the Prime Minister’s announcement, Premier Christy Clark issued a statement indicating that the federal announcement addresses the gaps in spill response identified by the BC Government.

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