North

Transport Canada to ban some pleasure craft from Arctic waters

The new restrictions, announced Thursday, come into effect June 1.

Local craft and boats used for subsistence hunting exempt from ban

A boat approaches a massive iceberg in Lancaster Sound. Some pleasure craft will be prohibited from sailing in Arctic waters until at least the end of October. (Jimmy Thomson/CBC)

Transport Canada is banning certain pleasure craft from operating in Arctic waters in an effort "to better protect Arctic communities," a release from the government department sent Thursday reads.

The ban, which comes into effect June 1, exempts craft used by local residents and those used for essential transportation, subsistence hunting, or the exercise of treaty rights.

International craft "exercising their right of innocent passage" will also be exempted, though they will be required to notify the Minister of Transport 60 days in advance of arriving in Arctic waters.

All other pleasure craft will be prohibited from operating north of the 60th parallel or in the coastal areas of northern Quebec and Labrador until at least October 31, 2020.

Transport Canada defines pleasure craft as "a boat, a ship, or any other water craft that is used exclusively for pleasure and does not carry passengers or goods for payment."

"Canoes, kayaks, sailboats and motorboats are also included in this definition," the release reads.

Individual violators could be fined $5,000 per day, and corporations could face fines of up to $25,000 per day.

The release says the intention of the ban is to minimize "any potential interaction with remote and vulnerable coastal communities" during the pandemic. It also says it will allow the Canadian Coast Guard to "focus on essential operations."

The summer season usually attracts a number of adventurers to Arctic waters, some of whom end up in need of rescue.

This new ban builds on one prohibiting cruise ships from travelling through Arctic waters, announced March 13.

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