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Ottawa has announced $26.6 million in funding for research to help better understand noise pressures on marine mammals. Darren Fisher, a Halifax-area MP, made the announcement today on behalf of the new Fisheries and Oceans Minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, at Halifax’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography where much of the research will be carried out. The Fisheries Department says the research will help identify how to reduce the impacts of noise stressors on whales and other marine species. It says the initial focus will be to better understand the effect of shipping-related noise on right whales, the southern resident killer whale (SRKW) and the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga, amongst others. As part of the initiative, Dalhousie University in Halifax will receive $635,000 to support its monitoring of the North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Roseway Basin, off southern Nova Scotia and the University of BC will receive $1.1M to examine how changes in the food web affect the abundance and quality of Chinook salmon in critical habitats of the SRKW. 

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Canada Border Services Agency has released Customs Notice 18-09, amending the time frames for the release of commercial goods. This notice will supercede Appendix B, in Memorandum, D17-1-4 Release of Commercial Goods. Upon implementation of changes to the house bill process (Date TBD), goods imported through the commercial process will only be eligible for release upon arrival of the goods at final destination (i.e. arrival at the location where the importer is seeking release).  Changes to release time frames are required as a result of the amendments to the Reporting of Imported Goods Regulations and the Customs Sufferance Warehouse Regulations which came into force . These amendments established the requirement for carriers and warehouse operators, to electronically notify the CBSA of the arrival of goods. Note CBSA has released a new version of the Electronic Commerce Client Requirements Document (ECCRD), “Chapter 1: Advance Commercial Information (ACI) Marine” containing a number of updates, wording changes and clarifications on sub-location codes. An update to this Customs Notice will be published when an official system release date is available for the house bill process.

Friday, 20 July 2018 12:38

New measures on grain dust take effect

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Changes to the occupational health and safety regulations for workers exposed to grain dust and flour dust in federally regulated workplaces take effect. The regulations will significantly lower the risk of workers coming into contact with airborne substances in the workplace, while ensuring consistency with most provincial and territorial regulations. These changes will also align the exposure limits for these hazardous substances with the highest safety standards in Canada and internationally. The Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL) for grain dust in the federal jurisdiction of 10 mg/m3 is higher than the limit recommended by scientific consensus to protect the health and safety of employees at risk. The OEL for grain dust will be decreased to 4 mg/m3. 

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On July 11, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced that amendments to the Marine Mammal Regulations (MMR) are now published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.  The new rules for whale watching and approaching marine mammals, which are now in effect, will provide a minimum approach distance of 100 metres for most whales, dolphins and porpoises to legally protect these animals from human disturbances. The required distance requirement will be greater for certain marine mammals, including killer whales in B.C. and the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga in Quebec, because of the threats they already face or because of local geography. These variations include:

  • 200 m for all killer whale populations in B.C. and the Pacific Ocean;
  • 200 m for all whales, dolphins and porpoises in the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park;
  • 400 m for threatened or endangered whales, dolphins and porpoises in the St. Lawrence Estuary (the critical habitat of the endangered St. Lawrence Estuary beluga); and
  • 50 m in parts of the Churchill Estuary (which includes the Churchill River) and parts of the Seal River

The requirement to respect the approach distances does not apply to a vessel that is in transit.   Amendments to the MMR also require operaters of a vehicle to report a collision or or other accidental contact with a marine mammal.  Before the changes to the regulations, voluntary guidelines existed but they were not enforceable.  These amendments now make it possible for anyone in contravention of the Regulations to be charged with an offence under the Fisheries Act.


Wednesday, 11 July 2018 14:51

What to do with the MV Sun Sea

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The federal government is trying to figure out what to do with the MV Sun Sea, and has issued a Request for Information (RFI).  Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) is requesting Industry feedback regarding potential options for the vessel, which has been in the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency since 2010.  The government is interested in obtaining input on alternative disposal methods that are environmentally sound and lower costs to Canada Taxpayers.  The MV Sun Sea was carrying 492 Sri Lankan Tamils when it was intercepted off the coast of British Columbia on August 12, 2010.  It is currently moored at a facility on the Fraser River in Delta, BC.


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Transport Canada has issued Ship Safety Bulletin No. 09/2018 to remind vessel owners, authorized representatives and operators of commercial passenger vessels that they must “...develop procedures for the safe operation of the vessel and for dealing with emergencies.”

Friday, 06 July 2018 11:17

New SAR capability for the West Coast

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The Canadian Coast Guard opened the first of four new search and rescue stations planned for the west coast. The new Victoria station is in service now and enhances the Coast Guard’s marine search and rescue capacity around Victoria and in the eastern and central Strait of Juan de Fuca. It builds on the Coast Guard’s longstanding partnerships with volunteer organizations like the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, as well as with the Royal Canadian Navy and local first responders, to improve the marine safety system in the region. The station will be home to a 14.7-metre Canadian Coast Guard lifeboat and a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat, and is located at the Victoria Canadian Coast Guard Base in James Bay. It will operate 24-hours-a-day.  The west coast will also see two new search and rescue lifeboats in British Columbia in 2019. The CCGS McIntyre Bay will be stationed at Prince Rupert, and the CCGS Pachena Bay will serve the Port Hardy area as an interim measure. These vessels will be able to operate up to 100 nautical miles from shore, delivering modern search and rescue capability.

Friday, 29 June 2018 14:39

Ajax Mine Project denied

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The Government of Canada has rejected the proposed Ajax Mine project in British Columbia because it was determined that the project will likely cause significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be justified in the circumstances. The Ajax mine proposal would have involved the construction and operation of a conventional open-pit copper and gold mine located adjacent to Kamloops, BC with an approximate lifespan of 23 years. The Government of Canada's decision follows an earlier decision by British Columbia to decline to issue the project a provincial environmental assessment certificate.

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The Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, has announced Canada’s $167.4 million Whales Initiative. The initiative seeks to protect and support the recovery of the Southern Resident Killer Whale, the North Atlantic right whale, and the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga whale through comprehensive actions tailored to address the unique combinations of threats.  

Specifically in regards to the Southern Resident Killer Whales in the Salish Sea, the Government of Canada recognizes that they face an imminent threat to survival and recovery which requires immediate attention. Canada’s Whales Initiative includes immediate and comprehensive action to support their recovery by addressing the main threats they face: lack of prey, disturbance from vessels, including noise and pollution from land-based sources. Key actions include:

Reducing disturbance from underwater vessel noise by:

  • Imposing a new mandatory requirement for all marine vessels (including recreational boats) to stay at least 200 metres away from killer whales, effective July 11, 2018;
  • Asking vessels to move further away from key foraging grounds within shipping lanes of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard, and partnering with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) program on a voluntary vessel slowdown in Haro Strait starting in July 2018;
  • Working with BC Ferries to develop a noise management plan to reduce underwater noise impacts of its fleet on killer whales; and
  • Developing the necessary tools to implement mandatory measures where needed to reduce noise from vessel traffic, such legislation if required.
  • Increasing scientific research, monitoring and controls of contaminants in whales and their prey, and funding additional research on prey availability.

Improving prey availability for the Southern Resident Killer Whales by:

  • Reducing the total fishery removal for Chinook salmon by 25-35 per cent, to help increase prey availability;
  • Implementing mandatory fishery closures in specific areas where  whales forage for food by closing these areas to recreational finfishing and commercial salmon fishing, and exploring the use of additional regulatory measures; and
  • Increasing scientific research, monitoring and controls of contaminants in whales and their prey, and funding additional research on prey availability.

Enhancing monitoring under the water and in the air by:

  • Adding to the under-water hydrophone network in the Salish Sea to  better  measure noise impacts and track the noise profile of individual vessels; and
  • Increasing aerial surveillance patrols through the Transport Canada’s National Aerial Surveillance Program, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Fisheries Aerial Surveillance and Enforcement Program to better monitor and enforce new measures.

Encouraging compliance and strengthening enforcement by:

  • Investing in education and awareness among recreational boaters to reduce their impact on the whales by providing, for example the Cetus Research and Conservation Society with  funding of up to $415,000 for three years to deliver the Straitwatch program;
  • Adding more fishery officers on the water to verify compliance with approach distances and disturbances and harassment provisions of the regulations and enforce fisheries closures; and
  • Enhancing strong enforcement of environmental regulations to reduce contaminants affecting the killer whales.

The Minister clearly stated that these actions could include additional mandatory measures, legislative changes and adoption of new technologies. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is also undertaking a Whale Innovation Challenge initiative in partnership with Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre to develop solutions towards real-time detection and location of whales. This initiative aims to mobilize the technology development community in Canada and globally to develop whale-specific solutions to better understand the location, abundance and movements of whales and whale populations. This will contribute to scientific whale research and overall efforts to protect endangered whales in Canada.

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Today the Government of Canada announced a major investment of  $167 million for three projects to improve port infrastructure, increasing the capacity and fluidity of the rail infrastructure that serves the south shore port area. The first two projects are led by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, with investment from Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway and include:

  • improving the existing Thornton Rail Tunnel ventilation system so that trains can pass through the tunnel more frequently;
  • improving the rail corridor by building 5.5 kilometres of track adjacent to the existing double-tracked corridor;
  • designing and raising Douglas Road so it crosses over the existing Canadian National railway l corridor;
  • building the Centennial Road overpass, a 600 metre-long, two-lane elevated viaduct structure;
  • extending the existing two-lane Waterfront Road by 600 metres;
  • realigning 350 metres of Commissioner Street; and
  • building 9.4 kilometres of new siding track and reconfiguring train switching operations within the  Canadian Pacific railway corridor, along the south shore of Burrard Inlet in the Cities of Vancouver and Burnaby.

The third project led by Canadian National, with investment from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, involves designing and building a 4.2 kilometre-long secondary track, parallel to the existing Burrard Inlet line, in the City of Vancouver. The increased rail capacity will support the flow of goods through the south shore port area, as trade volumes continue to grow.

Friday, 22 June 2018 13:40

CCG to receive 3 interim icebreakers

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The Canadian Coast Guard and Public Services and Procurement Canada has issued an Advanced Contract Award Notice (ACAN) to Chantier Davie of Lévis, Quebec, for the acquisition and conversion of three medium commercial icebreakers. These ships would provide interim capability for the Canadian Coast Guard, while replacement vessels are being built under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

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The Nanaimo Port Authority has received $6.3 million from the federal government toward a new 60,000 square-foot Vehicle Processing Centre and supporting infrastructure to repurpose its existing Nanaimo Assembly Wharf as a multi-purpose general cargo terminal with an initial focus on automobiles. The project will improve Canada’s supply chain for automobiles imported into the country by addressing the significant existing transportation bottlenecks, vulnerabilities and congestion while also providing sustainable economic development opportunities for Nanaimo and Vancouver Island.  The project is expected to have significant economic and employment benefits by creating an estimated 200 jobs during construction and ‎eventually as many as 100 permanent jobs.

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