Ottawa, Ontario – The Government of Canada is committed to protecting mariners and the marine environment on the West Coast, including Indigenous coastal communities and surrounding waters.
To continue to meet this commitment, the Government of Canada is developing a long-term national approach for marine emergency towing known as the National Strategy on Emergency Towing, which will include recommendations on how to best meet emergency towing requirements on all coasts. The strategy will consider regional needs, the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples, partners and stakeholders, and lessons learned from the Atlantic Eagle and Atlantic Raven, which are the two emergency towing vessels leased by the government and currently stationed off the coast of British Columbia.
As part of the Oceans Protection Plan, the two vessels have been strategically located in the waters off British Columbia since late-2018, helping ensure the Canadian Coast Guard has the vessels it needs to respond to incidents involving large ships off the West Coast. The Atlantic Raven was on scene and continues to play an essential role in the ongoing incident involving the M/V Zim Kingston off Greater Victoria, Vancouver Island.
Today, the Government of Canada announced a one-year contract extension for the lease of the two emergency towing vessels. The extension of this contract is an interim measure while the federal government determines how best to provide sustainable emergency towing capabilities. The extension is valued at $20 million.
As part of its commitment to protecting Indigenous waters and coastal communities, the Government of Canada is working with Indigenous Peoples in B.C. to ensure their insights and expertise are reflected in the planning, response and protection of mariners and the marine environment, including in emergency towing. The Canadian Coast Guard has strengthened its collaboration with Indigenous Peoples on marine safety and response training, and we worked closely to expand the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary in B.C. to support Indigenous communities.