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Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan: Creating stronger Indigenous partnerships and engaging coastal communities

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Many Canadians rely on their coasts and waterways for recreation, to deliver products to market, and to earn their livelihood. Many cherish them for cultural reasons, as well. The Oceans Protection Plan will help keep Canada’s waters and coasts safe and clean, for today’s use and for future generations.

Indigenous coastal communities share ties to Canada’s oceans that span generations. They rely on them as a source of livelihood, food security, and valuable transportation routes. The Oceans Protection Plan provides Indigenous coastal communities with new opportunities to protect, preserve, and restore Canada’s oceans and sea routes.

The Government of Canada needs the traditional knowledge and expertise of Canada’s Indigenous peoples and coastal communities to protect its coasts and waterways more efficiently. They have been safeguarding Canada’s waters for years. They are often the first to respond to marine emergencies and can be the most affected when a marine pollution incident occurs. They have valuable insights and expertise to contribute to more effective response and protection of our coasts. Their partnership in the Oceans Protection Plan is a critical element of Canada’s marine transportation system.

A more active role in emergency response and waterways management

By creating regional partnerships with Indigenous and local communities, the Government of Canada looks for their cooperation and for them to play an active role in decisions about marine safety. The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) will offer training in search and rescue missions, spill report assessments, and emergency spill response working closely with these groups to assess risks and respond quickly to marine emergencies. For example, the CCG will:

  • Form new Indigenous Community Response Teams in British Columbia which will offer formal training for search and rescue, environmental response, and incident command.
  • Create a new chapter of the CCG Auxiliary in British Columbia to support Indigenous communities.
  • Create a CCG Auxiliary for the Arctic to bolster response to emergencies and pollution incidents.

Working hand in hand with
Indigenous and coastal communities

The Government of Canada will partner with Indigenous and coastal communities and seek their advice in a number of areas, including:

  • understanding the combined effects of shipping;
  • creating local vessel control areas to minimize safety risks and/or environmental impacts;
  • updating and modernizing regulations and other tools to better respond to community issues related to marine traffic;
  • setting habitat restoration priorities and taking the most appropriate measures when monitoring clean-up, in the event of a spill; and
  • developing training programs to increase participation of Indigenous community members and women in marine safety jobs.

These Oceans Protection Plan initiatives will lead to safer, more responsible marine shipping and cleaner, healthier marine ecosystems for traditional and other community uses.

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