Canada Proposed to Regulate Arctic Traffic Zone

Friday, March 05, 2010

Canada’s Transport Minister John Baird 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.

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