Transport Minister Jean-C. Lapierre announced the purchase of new marine pollution aerial surveillance equipment that will significantly strengthen Transport Canada's National Aerial Surveillance Program. The $2.3 million contract will
cover the purchase of the equipment, as well as the on-board crew training.
"The Government of Canada is committed to preventing pollution from ships and to continuously enhancing the protection of our marine environment," said Mr. Lapierre. "This technology will significantly strengthen our surveillance program and help us achieve this goal."
Transport Canada conducts aerial surveillance to detect marine pollution from ships. When such pollution is detected, charges may be laid under the Canada Shipping Act.
It is expected that the equipment will be installed in Transport Canada's aerial surveillance aircraft and crews will be trained on its use over the coming months.
Currently, this surveillance relies on visual detection from crew on board an aircraft, who can survey approximately two nautical miles on each side of the aircraft. The new equipment will be able to detect surface anomalies, such as oil, up to approximately 25 nautical miles on each side of the aircraft. Therefore, this equipment will significantly increase Transport Canada's ability to detect illegal discharges from passing vessels even in conditions of reduced visibility, such as darkness or low cloud cover. The system will also assist the Department of Fisheries and Oceans/Canadian Coast Guard and Environment Canada with containment and cleanup operations by detecting, tracking and helping determine the characteristics of oil slicks.
The new equipment includes the following: a side-looking airborne radar; an ultraviolet/infrared line scanner; an Airborne Automated Identification System transponder
for receiving ship identity information; a high-resolution digital photography camera and video system with GPS data annotation; and a data processor interface that integrates all systems into one user console to ensure maximum efficiency during routine and emergency situations.
Transport Canada has acquired this equipment from the Swedish Space Corporation of Solna, Sweden following a public tendering process. The Swedish Space Corporation is an industry leader in the development of aerial surveillance systems. Systems have been purchased by countries such as Greece, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the United States.