Posted on 14 December 2009
Ottawa (December 14, 2009) – All foreign vessels entering Canadian Arctic waters should be required to report to NORDREG – the Arctic Canada Traffic System – regardless of vessel size or tonnage, says a report by the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, entitled Controlling Canadian Arctic Waters: Role of the Canadian Coast Guard. Currently, foreign vessels transiting the Northwest Passage have no obligation to report to any Canadian authority, as long as they do not land.
Full control of northern waters requires strengthening the Canadian Coast Guard, including the provision of new, year-round, multi-purpose polar icebreakers. Armed Coast Guard vessels should provide platforms for Arctic marine enforcement in conjunction with other agencies.
“As the Arctic grows in strategic and economic importance, Canada needs to do more to ensure control of shipping in northern waters,” says Senator Bill Rompkey, Chair of the committee. “Full control over Arctic waters is a matter of sovereignty. It is also a matter of protecting the exceptionally fragile coastal and marine environment for Northern residents – primarily the Inuit who have used those lands and waters for countless generations.”
The report calls on the Coast Guard to look towards a year-round northern operation administered in the North to demonstrate that Canada is serious about protecting Canadian interests and those of northern residents.
Additionally, the report recommends creating a Cabinet committee on Arctic affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister and including Ministers whose portfolios touch on the North, to further develop Arctic policy in cooperation with the three territorial governments.
“Engaging territorial governments in policy-making is only part of strengthening a responsive northern vision for Canada,” says Senator Ethel Cochrane, Deputy Chair of the committee. “Ensuring that Aboriginal Peoples in the North are full partners in the formation of policy and programs is absolutely vital.”
The committee’s latest report on the Canadian Coast Guard is based on evidence gathered in Ottawa and during public hearings and fact-finding activities held in the Western Arctic.
To read the full report and list of recommendations, please visit the committee website: www.senate-senat.ca/fopo-e.asp
For more information, please contact: