Providing stakeholders with a keener sense of what’s happening in our coastal waters is the primary focus of the federal government through its Oceans Protection Plan.
The plan came to fruition one year ago with the federal government making the huge investment of $1.5 billion in an effort to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways.
Long Range Mountains MP Gudie Huchings revealed details of the government’s new Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness initiative under the Oceans Protection Plan at a news conference Friday at the Corner Brook Port Authority.
Hutchings said the latest initiative is designed to improve the quality, accessibility and availability of local information on maritime activity for all coastal partners and communities.
Is there coastal erosion in an area?
Is there an environmental concern in the area that is a cause for concern?
How many abandoned shipwrecks are still buried at the bottom of the ocean?
Those are some of the things that could be affected by government’s plan to reduce marine traffic congestion and address growing concerns about the environment.
Whether it’s a fisherman, a businessman tied to the water or communities who have a vested interest in marine transportation, Hutchings said it’s important to collect information from the key stakeholders to create a clearer picture of situational awareness on the water.
“Collecting information from everybody that can be used to be more aware of everything on the water and how everybody can use that information,” she said.
The goal is to engage meaningful dialogue with people who are impacted by marine transportation including indigenous groups, coastal community representatives and various stakeholders affected by what happens on the shipping lanes across the country.
“What have we got to do to be aware of the change in our ocean areas,” Hutchings said. “We’ve got to be aware of what’s changing because it’s having such an impact on what we’re doing.”
Jackie Chow of the Corner Brook Port Authority was one of the key stakeholders who attended Friday’s event.
She is pleased to see the federal government taking steps to help make life at the port a smoother operation by having quicker and better access to local maritime data.
It’s a common occurrence for Chow to field calls from stakeholders who are looking for information on the port so she’s excited about being better equipped to respond to any concerns from those who a vested interest in the ocean.
It will be interesting, with the stakeholder consultation, to be able to provide input into what kind of information they’re going to have available,” Chow said.
“Because that will give us the opportunity to ask them to be looking for information that could fill some of the gaps that we have when people are looking for information that we don’t necessarily have.”