Canada announces National Oceans Protection Plan

Trudeau says federal government plans to invest $1.5 billion in effort

Canadian officials have announced a new marine safety plan that they say meets or exceed international standards, supported by commitments to indigenous co-management, environmental protections and science-based standards.

“Canada’s economy, environment and history are inextricably liked to our coastal regions,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who announced the plan on Nov. 7.

“The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan unveiled today will make Canada a world leader in marine safety and takes a powerful step toward co-management of our coasts with indigenous and coastal communities, together making sure they remain healthy, clean and safe for generations to come.”

The plan received quick endorsement from Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping, an independent, not-for-profit research center in Vancouver, British Columbia, that provides impartial, fact-based information about marine shipping in Canada, including risks, mitigation measures and best practices for safe, sustainable marine shipping.

“Clear seas strongly supports the expansion and strengthening of Canada’s Coast Guard,” said Richard Wiefelspuett, executive director of Clear Seas. “As Canada’s eyes and ears on the water, the Coast Guard has been underfunded and under-resourced for too long. These measures will help improve communication systems, increase towing capacity for rescue operations, and create valuable information sharing with indigenous and coastal communities.”

The Oceans Protection Plan has four main priority areas.


It would create a world-leading marine safety system that improves responsible shipping and protects Canada’s waters, including new preventive and response measures.  It would restore and protect the marine ecosystems and habitats, using new tools and research, with measures to address abandoned boats and wrecks.

It would strengthen partnerships and launch co-management practices with indigenous communities, including building local emergency response capacity.

It would invest in oil spill cleanup research and methods to ensure that decisions taken in emergencies are evidence based.

Trudeau said the plan was developed based on work done over the past two years between indigenous and coastal communities and various government programs.

The plan is to be implemented next year, he said.

Marine trade currently employs some 250,000 Canadians and injects more than $25 billion into Canada’s economy, and significant volume of Canada’s commodities and processed goods are exported by marine transportation.

Trudeau said that as soon as 2017, Canadians will begin to see concrete improvements, such as a Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John’s and legislation introduced to prohibit vessel abandonment in Canadian waterways.

As part of the new marine safety system, improved marine traffic and navigation information will be provided to mariners, indigenous peoples, and coast communities, he said.

In addition, enhanced resources will be provided to the Canadian Coast Guard, including new rescue stations, new towing capacity, and new communications equipment, he said. New oil spill response methods are also to be funded.