The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is the lead federal agency for ensuring the clean up of all ship-source and mystery spills into the marine environment in waters under Canadian jurisdiction, and for supporting other countries under international agreement.
The objectives of the Environmental Response program are to minimize the environmental, economic and public safety impacts of marine pollution incidents. The CCG monitors and investigates all reports of marine pollution in Canada and, in conjunction with commercial partners, uses its own resources and equipment to respond to all reported incidents.
Canadian law places the onus for responding to pollution incidents on the polluter. The Coast Guard’s role, through its Environmental Response Division, is to monitor the polluter’s efforts as the Federal Monitoring Officer. If a polluter is unknown, unwilling, or unable to respond to an incident, Coast Guard will assume the role as the On-Scene Commander and manage the response. However, this does not lessen the polluter’s responsibility. Through legislation, the CCG can seek compensation for reasonable costs incurred when managing or monitoring the response to an incident.
Environmental Response has expert personnel with extensive experience in responding to marine pollution incidents regionally, nationally and internationally. Regional and area response plans are developed and provide helpful guidance to program personnel when responding to a spill. These plans are based on a National Contingency Plan framework. The CCG also maintains an inventory of oil spill response equipment strategically located in depots across Canada.
The Environmental Response National Training Region Program has developed training courses and publications on spill response for government, industry and the public. In addition, Coast Guard participates in a variety of exercises with its partners and other stakeholders to practice and verify Canada’s readiness to respond to pollution incidents. Research and development projects are a key element in finding new, innovative strategies and technologies to prepare, respond to, and remediate marine pollution incidents.
Under the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation, 1990 (OPRC 90) the CCG provides support to other countries signatory to this convention, and can also request support from them when necessary.
In addition, the CCG maintains bi-lateral response plans and agreements to respond, in a collaborative manner, to incidents in the contiguous waters of Canada with the United States, Denmark and France.
Environmental Response duty officers are on standby 24 hours a day, seven days a week to investigate or initiate a response to pollution incident reports that are received.
By law, all pollution or threats of pollution must be reported. Pursuant to the Pollutant Discharge Reporting Regulations, 1995, a report shall include the following information:
Below are regional contact numbers for reporting a marine pollution incident.
In all regions, marine pollution incidents may also be reported by contacting a Maritime Communication and Traffic Services (MCTS) centre on VHF channel 16.