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News Release: Clear Seas launch


Independent research centre, Clear Seas, launched to examine the safety of national marine shipping.


July 6, 2015

Independent research centre launched to examine safety of national marine shipping

Vancouver, BC >>> Canada’s Minister of Transport, the Honourable Lisa Raitt, joined marine shipping experts, non-government organizations and other officials today to announce the launch of Canada’s first independent research organization to examine marine shipping in Canada.

Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping is an independent, not-for-profit organization that will provide impartial and evidence-based research to inform the public and policy makers about marine traffic in Canadian waters, including risks, mitigation measures, and best practices worldwide for safe and sustainable marine shipping.

“This is an important initiative not only for the promotion of safe and responsible marine shipping but for the growth of Canada’s economy,” said Minister Raitt. “Clear Seas will be able to share knowledge and recommend policy options about marine shipping based on reliable and fact-based information.”

Clear Seas was established after discussions with the marine shipping sector, port authorities, First Nations, non-governmental organizations, coastal communities, and other stakeholders concerned about marine shipping risks, prevention, preparedness, and response strategies for Canada’s coastlines and waterways.

“Independent research will be the foundation of our mandate, which is essential to the credibility of our organization,” said Clear Seas’ Executive Director Dr. Richard Wiefelspuett, a marine transportation expert with more than 30 years of international experience in the maritime sector. “With oversight provided by a diverse and experienced board of directors, the centre will operate under guiding principles that include openness, objectivity, excellence, and unbiased research and engagement.”

“Marine shipping plays an important role in the economy, and also in the transportation of potentially dangerous materials, including liquid natural gas, oil and chemicals,” Wiefelspuett explained. He added that one of Clear Seas’ first research projects, commissioned in collaboration with the Council of Canadian Academies, will be a comprehensive analysis of risks associated with marine shipping in Canada, including an examination of the current state of mitigation measures in place. The report is due for public release in early 2016.

“We are pleased to be involved in the launch of Clear Seas,” said Tim McMillan, President and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. “Safe and sustainable marine shipping is in everyone’s interest and is one of the Province’s five conditions for approval of the proposed pipeline projects. As Canada’s trade with other countries continues to grow, and with it more marine traffic, we need to protect our waterways and shorelines and involve First Nations and coastal communities in ongoing dialogue. Clear Seas will provide the credibility and transparency, based on their independent analysis, to facilitate those discussions.”

According to Transport Canada, total marine freight traffic in Canada experienced an average annual growth rate of 1.1% between 2001 and 2010, and reached 475 million tonnes in 2012, the latest year for which data were available. Marine transportation services in 2013 carried $205 billion worth of international trade.

Wiefelspuett added that Clear Seas is grateful for the widespread endorsements received from governments, port authorities, First Nations and industry to help launch the organization.

The Province of British Columbia also supports Clear Seas’. “The Government of B.C. is committed to working together with our federal and provincial partners to protect our coastline from marine spills. One of B.C.’s five conditions for heavy oil is to have a world-leading marine spill response regime in place and we look forward to the Clear Seas program contributing to the development of this system.” added Mary Polak, B.C.’s Minister of Environment.

Clear Seas Backgrounder

For more information, please contact:

Megan Halkett, on behalf of
Clear Seas – Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping 604.722.8317

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