August 28, 2008
Canada to double reach of Arctic shipping regs
The Government of Canada is further asserting its claims of Arctic sovereignty.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterday said it will double the range at which Canadian environmental laws and shipping regulations will be enforced.
"Whether it is the thawing of the Northwest Passage or the suspected resource riches under the Arctic seabed, more and more countries are taking an interest in the waterways of the Canadian Arctic," said the Prime Minister. "We will be sending a clear message to the world that our environmental standards and sovereignty are not up for debate -- if you are in Canada's Arctic you will be playing by Canada's rules."
The Harper government will be introducing changes to the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act as part of its fall legislative agenda. Currently the Act allows the Canadian Government to regulate all shipping in zones up to 100 nautical miles from the nearest Canadian land in order to guard against pollution of the region's marine and coastal environments. Under the proposed new law, this jurisdiction will be extended to 200 nautical miles.
In addition the Prime Minister announced that his government will establish new regulations under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 that will require mandatory reporting from all ships destined for Arctic waters within the same 200 nautical mile limit.
"As an environmental matter, as a security matter and as an economic matter we are making it perfectly clear that not only do we claim jurisdiction over the Canadian Arctic, we are also going to put the full resources of the Government of Canada behind enforcing that jurisdiction," said the Prime Minister. "We are acting today to protect our environment, improve the security of our waterways and ensure that all Northern residents--and, in particular, the Inuit-- have a strong say in the future of our Arctic for generations to come."
The announcement follows one the previous day in which Prime Minister Harper said the Canadian Government will "use the full tools of modern geological science to encourage economic development and defend Canadian sovereignty throughout the North."
"As I've said before, 'use it or lose it' is the first principle of sovereignty in the Arctic," said the Prime Minister. "To develop the North we must know the North. To protect the North, we must control the North. And to accomplish all our goals for the North, we must be in the North."
The geo-mapping program will combine field research and advanced scientific analysis to provide Canadians with a fuller assessment on the extent of mineral and energy resources in the Canadian North. This information will help generate additional investment and economic development in Canada's Northern communities.
"We know from over a century of northern resource exploration that there is gas in the Beaufort, oil in the Eastern Arctic, and gold in the Yukon. There are diamonds in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, and countless other precious resources buried under the ice, sea and tundra," said the Prime Minister. "But what we've found so far is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Managed properly, Canada's share of this incredible endowment will fuel the prosperity of our country for generations. And geo-mapping will pave the way for the resource development of the future."