Webinar: Maritime Commercial Incidents and Accidents in Canadian Waters

On July 13, 2021, Clear Seas’ launched the Maritime Commercial Incidents and Accidents dashboard highlighting ten years of data on marine incidents and accidents that occurred in and around Canadian waters. 

vessel traffic through Strait of Juan de Fuca

Presentation of the Dashboard

Watch the research team introduce the Marine Incidents and Accidents dashboard, its specificities and applications:

Word of welcome

Project context and overview

Creating the dashboard

Navigating the dashboard

Insights and analysis

Questions and answers

Frequently Asked Questions

For this project, data on marine occurrences and marine casualties were gathered from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s MARSIS database and the United States Coast Guard’s MISLE database. Additional information was gathered from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada or the National Transportation Safety Board (U.S.) investigation reports.

No, additional data sources other than the MARSIS database, MISLE database, and investigation reports, were not accessed for this project. In future iterations of the dashboard, data from additional sources may be gathered to improve the quality and completeness of the marine occurrence dataset.

The types of vessels included in this study are cargo ships, tankers, tugs, barges, ferries, and large ocean-going cruise ships. Fishing vessels (both commercial and non-commercial), government vessels, pleasure craft, and other types of vessels are not included in the dataset.

While Clear Seas is focused on issues related to commercial marine shipping traffic, the visibility and importance of ferries and cruise ships justifies their inclusion in this dataset. Incidents involving small passenger vessels, like harbour passenger ferries and non-ocean-going cruise ships, are excluded. For some parts of the country, these smaller passenger vessels make up a significant amount of traffic and incident reports. In the future, a more comprehensive analysis that includes these vessel types may be completed.

Clear Seas considers a serious accident to mean a marine occurrence with serious impacts, particularly in terms of damage to the ship, damage to the environment, or other damage. Occurrences reported as serious marine accidents in the dashboard are defined based on the following criteria:

  • A marine occurrence (i.e., incident or accident) that resulted in a Transportation Safety Board of Canada or the National Transportation Safety Board (U.S.) investigation
  • A marine casualty identified as a serious marine accident in the United States Coast Guard MISLE database extract
  • A marine occurrence with an International Maritime Organization (IMO) Classification of “Serious Incident” or “Very Serious Incident” according to the United States Coast Guard reports, or an IMO Class Level of “Very Serious Marine Casualty” according to the MARSIS database

If the offshore drilling activities are within the study area, and they involve the types of vessels that are included in the dataset (i.e., tugs, barges, cargo, tanker, ferry, and cruise), then records of vessels involved in marine incidents and accidents related to offshore drilling would be included in the dataset.

Records resulting in pollution were identified from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s MARSIS database using a field from the database that indicates whether pollution was a result of the occurrence. For the records from the United States Coast Guard’s MISLE database, pollution records were identified where the marine casualty type was “pollution-discharged or released.” At this time, the pollution filter in the dashboard shows all pollution-related records, not just those related to oil spills. This dataset does not contain explicit information about the shoreline impacts or contact from oil spill events, however, there may be information on this topic that can be found in the summary field or related investigation reports, if available.

Each point on the map represents a single vessel involved in a marine occurrence. In the case of a collision between two vessels (or any occurrence type where multiple vessels are involved), the collision incident will be reported for each individual vessel involved. This means that multiple records for the same occurrence are shown in this dashboard, one point for each of the vessels involved in that particular occurrence. These points share the same spatial coordinates and will be located at the same position on the dashboard map. Only vessel types that are included in this study will be shown.

Direct or root cause information is not available in this tool. For marine occurrences where an investigation was completed by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada or the National Transportation Safety Board (U.S.), details on the root cause of the occurrence may be found in the investigation report. A link to the investigation report can be found in the pop-up window for any records where an investigation took place. Additional information about an occurrence may be found on the summary section for most of the records shows in the dashboard.

Vessel traffic data is required to provide context to the number of vessels involved in marine incidents and accidents in specific areas. The example shown was produced using the Marine Incidents and Accidents dashboard dataset and vessel traffic analysis results from Clear Seas’ research project Vessel Traffic in Canada’s Pacific Coast; the accident rates are not included in the dashboard itself. Many different organizations possess historical AIS data from across Canada, which can be used to determine vessel traffic statistics. In the future, our intention is to gather vessel traffic information to calculate accident rates for other regions in Canada.

The purpose of this project was to gather and present data on marine incidents and accidents in an interactive, geospatial format. We did not include data on marine traffic or perform root-cause analysis for this project, so we can’t comment on the reasons behind increases or decreases in the numbers of vessels involved in marine occurrences.

We do know that the TSBC reporting regulations changed in 2014, which made reporting incidents and accidents easier. On the U.S. Coast Guard side, marine casualty data is open for public download from their website for marine events up to 2015. To access more recent data, an FOI request must be submitted to the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security, which is the path we took. We noticed that there were much fewer records in 2016, 2017, and 2018 in the datasets we received from the USCG, compared to 2015 and earlier.

Clear Seas recognizes the unique place of Indigenous Peoples – including First Nations, Inuit and Métis – in Canada, which affords them special rights, as protected under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution and as recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. To that end, Clear Seas is reaching out to these communities to make them aware of this resource and to engage in ways to make it more useful for them. Clear Seas’ Indigenous and Coastal Communities team includes 11 Indigenous interns who are working on this and other related projects in their area of interest.

The importance of the resource was recognized by Kim Baird, former Chief, Tsawwassen First Nation and Vice-Chair of Clear Seas’ Board of Directors when Clear Seas launched the tool. She recognized the importance of these communities of the importance of having accessible data to fully understand shipping impacts to their territories.

You can email Clear Seas at info@clearseas.org to discuss a data downloading agreement. We intend to update the data in the future, but the update schedule has not yet been decided and will depend on the feedback we receive from the users and the availability of up-to-date data.

You can access the dashboard here and read the project’s technical report here. If you need help using the dashboard watch this short tutorial or email us at info@clearseas.org.

Published June 25, 2021

Last modified on February 22, 2022