Cumulative Effects of Marine Shipping

Project goal

Through the Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada will establish a shared approach to better understand coastal ecosystems and the potential effects of regional marine vessel activity on the environment.

Current environment

Concerns regarding the cumulative effects of marine shipping activities (including effects on fisheries, marine mammals and Indigenous use in coastal areas in Canada) are frequently raised through project-specific environmental assessments.

Gaps in data have led to a lack of understanding of shipping impacts on marine environments. 

How the project will be delivered

Through this initiative, Transport Canada will establish a collective approach to understanding potential regional marine shipping effects on the environment to support preservation and restoration of marine ecosystems and a world-leading marine safety system. Indigenous nations, local communities and stakeholders are being engaged to determine key concerns and help collect information which may be used to inform assessments of the cumulative effects of marine shipping. Data is being collected in 6 pilot areas within Northern BC, Southern BC, the St. Lawrence QC, the Bay of Fundy NB, South Coast NL and the Eastern Arctic NU. These areas provide a broad representation in terms of current and projected marine development as well as a variety of representative coastal environments.

Results of this initiative will include data collection, the development of a national cumulative effects assessment framework and specific tools that can be applied to existing vessel movements as well as future project developments. 

The framework will be developed with Indigenous peoples, coastal communities and stakeholders.  The data, framework and tools developed through this initiative will support evidence-based decisions that guide economic growth while preserving the marine ecosystem. 

The initiative will:

  • Identify regional issues of concern and define the scope of marine shipping activities to be assessed in six coastal areas of Canada.
  • Select appropriate spatial and temporal boundaries including valued components of ecosystems to be studied at the six coastal sites.
  • Identify stressors that may affect the valued components of ecosystems.
  • Complete the collection of coastal environmental data and regional marine shipping data.
  • Assess the effects of proposed activities on the valued components of ecosystems.
  • Identify mitigation tools and strategies.