North

Arctic vessels must register in Canada

Large ships entering Canada's Arctic waters will soon have to report to the Canadian Coast Guard, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea has announced.
The Canadian Coast Guard ship Louis S. St. Laurent breaks ice near the mouth of Bellot Strait in the Northwest Passage in Nunavut. ((Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press))

Large ships entering Canada's Arctic waters will soon have to report to the Canadian Coast Guard, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced Tuesday.

Under new regulations starting July 1, certain foreign and domestic vessels must register with the coast guard's Arctic marine traffic system, known as NORDREG.

It has been voluntary for cruise ships, freight ships and other marine vessels travelling in Canada's Arctic waterways to report to the coast guard, provided they do not land.

Shea said mandatory reporting will ensure the coast guard knows about the vessels entering Canadian Arctic waters, including their position and destination.

"With mandatory reporting, the Canadian Coast Guard will be able to promote the safe navigation of vessels, keep watch on vessels carrying pollutants, fuel oil and dangerous goods, and respond quickly in the event of an accident," Shea stated in a release Tuesday.

Shea's announcement follows recent standing committee reports, from both the Senate and the House of Commons, calling on the government to make foreign vessels register with NORDREG.

Large vessels targeted

Starting July 1, large ships will have to register with the Canadian Coast Guard before, during and after they travel in the Canadian government's NORDREG zone. ((Transport Canada))
Coast guard officials have also called for mandatory reporting, saying they don't always know about every ship that enters northern waters.

Last week, the standing committee on national defence said all foreign vessels entering Canada's Arctic waters should be required to report to the coast guard, regardless of size or tonnage.

Shea said under the new regulations, certain vessels must provide information before, during, and after they travel in the government's designated NORDREG zone.

Ships that will be affected by the new regulations include those weighing 300 tonnes or more, as well as vessels that carry dangerous goods or pollutants.

Large ships are being targeted because they tend to carry more fuel, oil, pollutants and dangerous goods than smaller vessels, Shea said.

Last year, the federal government expanded its marine pollution regulations to cover more of the Arctic, from 100 nautical miles from shore to 200 nautical miles.