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News Release: Lack of Data Limits Understanding of Marine Shipping Risks in Canada


Vancouver, B.C. (April 28, 2016) Version Française – A new report commissioned by the Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping (Clear Seas) reveals the need for better-quality shipping data to fully understand the causes of marine shipping accidents and their potential impacts.

The workshop report, Commercial Marine Shipping Accidents: Understanding the Risks in Canada, was released today by the Ottawa-based Council of Canadian Academies (CCA).

“Clear Seas commissioned this report to build consensus on the scope and character of commercial marine shipping risks,” said Dr. Richard Wiefelspuett, Executive Director of Clear Seas. “The report highlights a surprising lack of available data and research to fully understand the types, nature and causes of marine shipping risks, so we will use this report as a benchmark for future research to help fill the gap.”

While the report found that there have been fewer commercial marine shipping accidents in Canada over the past decade – largely due to improved traffic control technology, better ship designs and a strengthened regulatory regime – the likelihood of an accident and the severity of its impact differ greatly across Canada.

For example, the Pacific region has the highest level of shipping activity, but relatively fewer incidents and accidents. In contrast, the St. Lawrence River region experiences the highest level of commercial marine accidents.

The report also noted that Canada has not experienced a major oil spill in the last decade, and that a well developed oil spill response infrastructure is in place. The report cautions, however, that while the likelihood of an accident leading to an oil spill is low, the potential impact of such an accident would be significant.

“Of the many important findings in this report, we are very pleased with CCA’s development of a framework that acknowledges the importance of social licence to operate,” added Dr. Wiefelspuett. “As the report notes, the ease with which social licence can be gained will depend not just on the risk level, but also the broader risk perception of a given community.”

Clear Seas is confident this framework will help shape how the marine shipping industry gains the required consent to operate from those most affected by its impacts.

For more information or to download the report, please visit the Council of Canadian Academies at or learn more at our workshop overview page.
Télécharger le rapport complet.

About Clear Seas

Based in Vancouver, B.C., Clear Seas was established in 2014 as an independent, not-for-profit organization to provide impartial and evidence-based research about marine shipping in Canada, including risks, mitigation measures and best practices for safe and sustainable marine shipping operations.

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