Transport Minister Jean-C. Lapierre recently announced Transport Canada’s commitment to supporting phase one of the Government of Canada’s Oceans Action Plan. Mr. Lapierre’s statement follows an earlier announcement by Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Geoff Regan, of $28 million in funding for the first phase of the plan.

“Transport Canada is proud to participate in this important government-wide initiative, together with its partners at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada,” said Mr. Lapierre. “Transport Canada’s commitment to phase one of the plan means targeted measures will be taken to help reduce ship pollution incidents and prevent the introduction of invasive species from ships’ ballast tanks into Canadian waters.”

Transport Canada will receive approximately $4.5 million of the $28 million to pursue various initiatives in support of phase one of the plan. The department will:

  • Increase the number of hours flown by surveillance aircraft to detect oil spills;
  • Increase the use of Radarsat satellite during aerial surveillance flights;
  • Further enhance the equipment on-board the Dash 8 surveillance aircraft on the East Coast; and
  • Finalize new regulations to help reduce the risk of harmful aquatic species from being introduced into Canadian waters through ships’ ballast water.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for the Oceans Action Plan with the support of other federal departments including Transport Canada. The plan was announced in the 2004 Speech from the Throne as a means of developing Canada’s ocean resources in a way that will benefit coastal communities, while protecting fragile marine ecosystems. In the February 2005 budget, an investment of $28 million was identified for phase one of the plan, which will be implemented over the next two years.

Transport Canada is committed to a transportation system that is safe, efficient, and environmentally sustainable. The Government of Canada’s Oceans Action Plan and Transport Canada’s supporting initiatives will help protect our marine environment for future generations.

Transport Canada will provide periodic updates on the progress of these initiatives.