Marine Shipping And You #clearfacts #shippingmatters #maritimenation


Consider the items that surround you right now.
The computer or tablet or smartphone you're reading this on.
The furniture you're seated on.
The clothing you're wearing.
Your coffee mug, the coffee within it...

It all seems so far removed from marine shipping. But when you consider that an estimated 70-80% of the items that we are surrounded by and use daily are brought to us by ship it is clear that Canadians rely on marine shipping.

Even if you don't live by a coast, your day-to-day life depends on marine shipping. And when considering some of the issues surrounding marine shipping, it's important to do so knowing how it influences our lives and impacts the country's economy.

This site was created by Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping to provide information on the role of marine shipping in our lives.

A Ship Brought It

Essentially, any product in your life from somewhere other than North America likely came by ship.

Food and Beverages
Sporting Goods

In 2015, Canadian Tire, the 22nd largest importer in North America, imported more than 29,000 cargo containers.

Included were goods such as sporting equipment, hardware, electronics, housewares, tires, and auto accessories.

Around 90% of them were shipped through the Port of Vancouver, making Canadian Tire the port’s largest importer (by number of containers).

A Ship Took It

Canadians also rely on ships to export their products to the rest of the world.

Getting goods to international markets – or exporting – is essential to Canada’s prosperity and everyday marine shipping facilitates this.

From the small independent retailer to the global manufacturer – if you need your product to reach a market outside of North America it is likely that you will need to rely on marine shipping.

Explore the Top 15 Marine Export Commodities

Top 15 Marine Export Commodities by Total Value, 2006 – 2015

Commodity Type
Total Value ($B)
Mineral fuels, oils and products of distillation; bituminous subs; mineral waxes
Ores, slag and ash
Oil seed and oleaginous fruits; grains, seeds and fruit; ind and medicinal plants; straw
Nickel and articles thereof
Pulp of wood / of other fibrous cellulosic materials; recovered waste
Machinery, boilers, mechanical appliances, engines, parts
Wood and articles of wood; wood charcoal
Edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers
Meat and edible meat offal
Paper and paperboard; articles of paper pulp, of paper or of paperboard
Aluminum and articles thereof
Organic chemicals
Iron and steel

Indispensable to the Canadian Economy

Without marine shipping, Canada would be a different place economically.

Marine shipping enables trade and transports about 20% of Canadian imports and exports by dollar value.
The national economic impact of marine shipping is equal to approximately 1.8% of the Canadian economy – or about $30 billion.
About 80% of Canada’s marine trade is with countries outside of North America – giving Canada access to diverse markets.

More information on the Value of Commercial Marine Shipping to Canada.

Total marine trade$205B
United States$35B

In 2015, Canada’s international marine trade totalled $205 billion – of that $93 billion was exports and $112 billion imports.

Marine Shipping Safety

Our dependence on marine shipping necessitates that our waterways are busy hives of activity. Not unlike our hard-working roadways and rail lines – while they are indispensable to our lifestyles and our economy – safety must always be considered.

If shipping is essential to our everyday lives and all Canadians benefit from it how do we ensure that it is done to the highest standards?

What are the risks? How much risk is tolerable? Can any of that risk be avoided? Are Canadians confident that it’s being done safely?

Those are the questions that are under constant examination.

Canada’s marine safety regime is governed by the federal government. Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard and their science partners at Environment and Climate Change Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada work together to maintain the marine safety system.

Because marine shipping, by its nature, is an international activity, there are also international regulations, that are applied to Canadian vessels and waterways, in place to ensure safety.

How marine shipping is regulated in Canada is a highly complex system of laws. Learn More. For more information on marine safety visit Transport Canada.

About Clear Seas

Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping is an independent research centre that supports safe and sustainable marine shipping in Canada.

Clear Seas was established in 2014 after extensive discussions among government, industry, environmental organizations, indigenous peoples and coastal communities revealed a need for impartial information about the Canadian marine shipping industry.

Clear Seas received seed funding in 2015 through equal contributions from the Government of Canada (Transport Canada), the Government of Alberta (Alberta Energy) and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Our funders saw the need for an independent organization that would be a source of objective information on issues related to marine shipping in Canada.

As an independent research centre, Clear Seas operates at arm’s length from our funders. Our research agenda is defined internally in response to current issues, reviewed by our research advisory committee, and approved by our board of directors.

Our board of directors is composed of scientists, community leaders, engineers and industry executives with decades of experience investigating human, environmental and economic issues related to our oceans, coastlines and waterways.

Our reports and findings are available to the public at