The Canadian Government has doubled spending to increase the number of flights to conduct aerial surveillance operations for pollution from ships off coasts.
Transport minister Lisa Raitt said that over the next five years $47.6m would be invested on increasing the surveillance fleet, which currently consists of three modernised aircraft strategically placed across the country.
“Our government has zero tolerance towards polluting Canada’s marine environment,” Raitt said. “That is why we have doubled the funding for surveillance and monitoring of ships to detect pollution in Canada’s waters.”
The aircraft uses remote sensing equipment to observe, analyse, record and report marine pollution and other sea-based activities.
They are equipped with specifically designed sensors to detect oil spills as small as a litre on the ocean surface.
The fleet currently flies for around 2,080 surveillance hours. With increased spending, it will increase to 3,750 hours nationally.
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For the next three years, surveillance hours on the west coast will increase to 700 hours from the current 500 hours, and to 1,200 hours until 2017-2018.
Aerial surveillance has already increased in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Vancouver Harbour, Prince Rupert and Kitimat.
“Tanker traffic has increased, and through our government’s plan for Responsible Resource Development, we are ensuring the safe and reliable transport of energy resources through our waterways,” Raitt added.
Since the launch of the surveillance programme in 1991, the number of spills has noticeably declined.
Environment Canada’s Integrated Satellite Tracking of Pollution program generates the information of areas of potential pollution, helping the crew perform surveillance activities on coastal waters.
The concerned departments and international partners will receive the data and satellite monitoring reports to investigate and enforce domestic and international laws and conventions.