Aids To Navigation

Man lowering a boey in the water

The Canadian Coast Guard Marine Aids to Navigation Program in the Pacific Region services 27,000km of rugged coastline on Canada's West Coast. B.C.'s coastline is dotted with thousands of rocky outcroppings, ledges, and shoals. Depending on where these navigational hazards lie they may have the potential to cause considerable damage to vessels and the surrounding environment. Canadian Coast Guard Pacific's large network of more than 2,000 navigational aids are placed to ensure that mariners are warned of potential hazards before they cause significant damage. The program provides, operates and maintains a system of short-range and long-range aids to navigation throughout the coastal communities and inland lakes and waterways in the B.C. and the Yukon.

The Canadian Coast Guard's range of lights, buoys, beacons, and Differential Global Positioning Systems (DGPS) assist mariners to determine the position of their vessels, chart their course, and avoid dangerous waters. However, as widespread and specific these markings are, solely relying on navigational aids is often not enough. Mariners have a responsibility to be properly equipped with the right equipment to handle the hazardous conditions which can present themselves. In conjunction with the Canadian Coast Guard's navigational aid network and by using the latest charts, GPS technology and radar, mariners have the right tools to navigate B.C.'s waters safely.

In waters where the type and volume of traffic using the waterway justify the placement of navigational aids, the Canadian Coast Guard is responsible for providing systems to reliably increase safe navigation for public use. Direct beneficiaries of this program include commercial carriers, local and foreign industries dependent on marine transportation, fishing vessels, recreational boaters, and other government departments, agencies and organizations.

Aids to navigation in the Pacific Region are maintained at Coast Guard bases at Victoria and Prince Rupert. Technicians from both bases work to maintain buoys, beacons, lightstations, and GPS stations. The Canadian Coast Guard's wide-range of vessels and helicopters stationed in Victoria and Prince Rupert carry out this task year round.

Coast Guard's navigational aids program is also responsible for providing detailed information on the operation of, and changes to specific aids to navigation. This information is communicated to mariners through Notice to Shipping Marine Communications Traffic Service broadcasts and Notice to Mariner publications and internet postings. Canadian Hydrographic Services also receives this information for inclusion onto nautical charts.

By providing a wide range of aids to navigation, and a variety of navigational safety publications the Canadian Coast Guard facilitates the safe and expeditious movement of maritime traffic throughout the coast of B.C.