Audit at a Glance—Marine Navigation in the Canadian Arctic
(Chapter 3—Fall 2014 Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development)
Our next audit focused on the services that Environment Canada, Transport Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada provide to support marine navigation in the Arctic. While we found that weather and ice information has improved, we also noted gaps and emerging risks that, if left unaddressed, will only grow as marine traffic increases in the Arctic.
For example, many higher-risk areas in the Canadian Arctic are inadequately surveyed and charted. Some of the maps and charts for the Arctic are over 40 years old, and less than a quarter are rated as being “good” by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
In addition, the Canadian Coast Guard is having difficulty responding to requests from the shipping industry for new or modified aids to navigation, such as beacons and shore lights. Furthermore, the Coast Guard has not assessed the risks associated with decreasing icebreaking presence in the Arctic.
I am concerned that there seems to be no overall vision of what the federal government intends to provide in this vast new frontier, in terms of modern charts, aids to navigation and icebreaker services, given the anticipated increase in vessel traffic.