1 Plan Overview

1.1 Introduction

Within Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), on behalf of the Minister, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is the operational arm of the Government of Canada responsible for ensuring an appropriate response to ship-source and mystery-source pollution incidents in Canadian waters. This constitutes a major component of the overall marine pollution response capacity in Canada. The National Strategies Directorate, the Operations Directorates and the National Environmental Response Program Office are responsible for preparedness and response in this regard.

The Government of Canada is accountable to the Canadian public to ensure that the public interest is being protected in the event of a marine pollution incident. The objectives of the CCG are to minimize the environmental, socio-economic, and public safety impacts of marine pollution incidents, and provide humanitarian aid to natural and man-made disasters, where possible.

In addition, an industry funded pollution response capacity exists whereby potential polluters pay for the cost of preparedness for the environmental risk posed by their operations. This preparedness is established and maintained by certified Response Organizations who can be contracted by polluters to provide oil spill response services in the event of a marine pollution incident. This industry funded capacity is known as the Canadian Marine Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Regime and forms the other component of Canada’s overall marine pollution response capacity.

CCG will apply the Incident Command System (ICS) as its common and standard incident response methodology for all marine pollution incidents and respond as the Incident Commander for the federal government. Depending on the nature, scope and complexity of an incident, either a Single Command or a Unified Command construct may be established to conduct the incident response effort. When a Unified Command construct is established, it brings together the Incident Commanders of all major organizations that have either the jurisdiction and/or a mandate related to the incident at hand to coordinate an effective response while carrying out their own organization’s jurisdictional responsibilities.

Canada has adopted the "polluter pay principle" in legislation and requires polluters to pay for the cost of cleanup and pollution damage. CCG’s costs with respect to the response may also be recovered from the polluter.

1.2 Purpose

The Marine Spills Contingency Plan – National Chapter provides the details regarding the scope within which CCG will operate to ensure an appropriate response to a marine pollution incident. It outlines the operational precepts under which CCG responds to an incident at the tactical, regional, and national levels.

This Plan outlines the framework CGG will implement during the response to a marine pollution incident. It also establishes procedures when acting as an assisting agency for pollution incidents.

1.3 Vision

To minimize the public safety, environmental and economic impacts of marine pollution incidents occurring in Canadian waters.

1.4 Application

The Marine Spills Contingency Plan – National Chapter applies to marine pollution incidents occurring in Canadian waters for which CCG is the lead agency. It also guides the manner in which CCG will provide support, upon request, to another lead agency.

1.5 Legislative Mandate

The following Acts of Parliament provide the federal legislative mandate for this Plan:

Canada is also signatory to a number of international agreements, conventions and Memoranda of Understanding that apply to the conduct of this Plan. Please refer to Annex A – Existing Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding for a complete list of these agreements.

1.6 National Integrated Government of Canada Response

During an integrated Government of Canada response, all involved federal government institutions assist in determining overall objectives, contribute to joint plans, and maximize the use of all available resources. This occurs at the national and regional levels as necessary, based on the scope and nature of the emergency.

1.6.1 Supporting Departmental Plans

Supporting departmental plans and coordinating departments provide general or specialized assistance to feed into the Marine Spills Contingency Plan – National Chapter.

The Fisheries and Oceans Canada Strategic Emergency Management Plan (SEMP) is an overarching plan that outlines the Department’s comprehensive and coordinated approach to emergency management at a strategic departmental level. This plan builds on existing operational and business continuity plans and establishes the Department’s objectives, approach and structure for protecting Canadians from threats and hazards within its areas of mandated responsibility.

The Canadian Coast Guard’s Headquarters Operations Emergency Management Plan (OEMP) is to ensure that the full resources of Fisheries and Oceans Canada can be brought to the aid of any Canadian Coast Guard ship or unit that is facing a shipboard emergency, including a marine pollution incident. This plan, housed in the Canadian Coast Guard, National Command Centre, provides operational support to the Canadian Coast Guard’s National Incident Management Team in the event of an emergency.

1.6.2 Other Coordinating Government Departments

The National Emergency Response System, developed by federal, provincial and territorial governments, provides for the harmonization of joint federal, provincial and territorial response to emergencies. It supports and facilitates procurement and logistics coordination between all levels of government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and international stakeholders. Although in most instances it applies to federal support at the request of a province or territory, it can also be used in instances where provinces or territories support federal response to an emergency under federal jurisdiction such as the CCG’s responsibility to respond to marine pollution incidents.

1.6.2.1 Federal Emergency Response Plan

Public Safety Canada is the federal coordinating department, based on the legislated responsibility of the Minister of Public Safety under the Emergency Management Act, responsible for engaging relevant federal government institutions in a response. Public Safety Canada developed the Federal Emergency Response Plan in consultation with other federal government institutions and is the Government of Canada's "all-hazards" response plan. The Federal Emergency Response Plan outlines the processes and mechanisms to facilitate an integrated Government of Canada response to an emergency and to eliminate the need for federal government institutions to coordinate a wider Government of Canada response. Federal government institutions are responsible for developing emergency management plans, such as the Canadian Coast Guard’s Marine Spills Contingency Plan, in relation to risks in their areas of accountability. By this method, individual departmental activities and plans that directly or indirectly support the strategic objectives of the Federal Emergency Response Plan contribute to an integrated Government of Canada response.

1.6.2.2 Maritime Event Response Protocol

While not a plan, the Maritime Event Response Protocol recognizes that many government departments and agencies have emergency management responsibilities specifically related to maritime events to which various legislation, regulations and policies apply. The Maritime Event Response Protocol does not diminish the Canadian Coast Guard’s mandate as lead federal agency for marine spills from ships, but rather coordinates a comprehensive approach to incident management with other interested agencies.

The Maritime Event Response Protocol provides strategic guidance for the planning and execution of an integrated and coordinated Government of Canada response to a significant emerging or occurring maritime event affecting Canadian national interests. Although focused primarily on maritime security, events may include, but are not limited to health, pollution or other environmental impacts, unauthorized research or exploitation of the seabed and resources; and terrorism and other criminal activities. The Maritime Event Response Protocol also provides for common situational awareness for all federal government departments and provides a venue for all departmental Headquarters to share information and support the response.

Any of the Core Group Partners, including the CCG (Director, Incident Management, Operations, CCG Headquarter), may activate the Maritime Event Response Protocol for a significant marine event.

The plans mentioned in this section do not supersede the Marine Spills Contingency Plan – National Chapter. Rather, they represent a federal escalation of an emergency response beyond the scope of the activities detailed in this Plan. For example, the Maritime Event Response Protocol fosters enhanced federal communication, coordination and unity of an effort during potentially complex and politically sensitive situations or events.

1.7 Health and Safety

Safety is the first and foremost consideration in any response to a marine pollution incident in Canada. Environmental Response personnel involved in the response to a marine pollution incident shall do so in accordance with provisions stipulated in the Canada Labour Code, specifically those specified in the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, the Marine Occupational Safety and Health Regulations, the Fleet Safety and Security Management System and the Shore-Based Safety Management System.

The Fisheries and Oceans Canada Occupational Health and Safety Manual provides an overview of the requirements for Health and Safety under the Canada Labour Code. All personnel who have supervisory responsibilities are responsible and personally liable for protecting the health and safety of their employees while in the workplace.

1.8 Geographic Scope - Canadian Coast Guard Regions

There are three Canadian Coast Guard Regions to facilitate the administration of program delivery. They are:

  • Western: includes all Canadian waters on the west coast of Canada out to the outer limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone and the internal waters of British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba;
  • Central and Arctic: includes all Canadian Arctic waters from the Alaska-Yukon boundary east to the Nunavut-Greenland boundary out to the outer limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone, Hudson and James Bays, the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, and the internal waters of Ontario and Quebec; and
  • Atlantic: includes all Canadian waters from the maritime border between Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador east and south to the outer limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone and the internal waters of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia to the United States Border.

Figure 1: Canadian Coast Guard Regions

Canadian Coast Guard Regional Boundaries
Figure 1: Canadian Coast Guard Regions

Canadian Coast Guard Regional Boundaries

  1. Western Region – Includes all Canadian waters on the west coast of Canada out to the outer limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone and the internal waters of British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba
  2. Central and Arctic Region – Includes all Canadian Arctic waters from Alaska-Yukon boundary est to the Nunavute-Greenland boundary out to the outer limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone, Hudson and James Bays, the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, and the internal waters of Ontario and Quebec
  3. Atlantic Region – Includes all Canadian waters from the maritime border between Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador east and south to the outer limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone and the internal waters of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia to the United States Border
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