At around the time the UK government announced the new contract for an Emergency Towing Vessel covering Scottish waters the Canadian government has reaffirmed its commitment to a second ETV for its own waters.

Plans for the provision of two commercially leased ETVs in Canada are part of the Oceans Protection Plan, intended to keep the country’s coastline safe and clean for present and future generations and on a recent visit to a Canadian Coast Guard tug in Vancouver, prime minister Justin Trudeau announced that the second vessel will operate on the Canadian west coast.

The increase in capacity of an oil pipeline between Edmonton and Kinder Morgan’s marine terminal in Burnaby B.C. is expected to increase tanker activity from five to 34 each month. The ETVs are seen as an important part of providing reassurance to local communities concerned about threats to the environment and are in turn part of the Oceans Protection Plan which sees the government partnering with indigenous and coastal communities to develop a marine safety system.

An investment of $1.5bn will be made in coastal protection and action plans aimed at engaging communities, first responders and governing authorities with emergency response. Headline features of the plan include: better sharing of marine traffic information with coastal communities, proactive vessel management, improved resupply facilities for remote communities, tougher requirements (including compensation provision) for industry response to incidents, strengthening of the Canadian Coast Guard’s command system and post-incident response procedures including a habitat restoration fund.

Strategies based on ‘best international models’ will address issues of dealing with abandoned, derelict and wrecked vessels including a strengthening of the ‘polluter-pays’ principle. Four new lifeboat stations will be established in British Columbia and the announcement also included plans for additional towing capacity to be added to major Coast Guard vessels on the Canadian east and west coasts.

By Peter Barker