More marine safety measures needed, says Ministry of Environment

  • Dec. 12, 2014 5:00 a.m.

The Ministry of the Environment says it recognizes the need for stronger preventative measures and better communication after the “near miss” with Russian cargo ship Simushir in October, which could have spelled disaster on Haida Gwaii’s west coast.”As with any incident response, both strengths and weaknesses are revealed during the course of events,” said the MoE, which joined dozens of agencies in debriefing the incident on Nov. 4.”In this case, there was rapid and competent teamwork by all participants Â… there is also a recognition that, with respect to this specific incident, we were very fortunate the winds were from a favorable direction and that the Canadian Coast Guard responders on-scene did an outstanding job with the capability they had,” it said of the strengths.The incident response also revealed system weaknesses and a need for stronger preventative measures. This includes infrastructure such as dedicated rescue tug boats and helicopter deployable tow packages, and routing restrictions to keep vessels a maximum safe distance from shorelines and sensitive areas where possible.Improvements in communication are also needed, said the MoE, such as improved engagement with First Nations, better inter-agency communication, and making timely information available to the public. The Council of the Haida Nation, Canadian Coast Guard, Ministry of the Environment, Environment Canada, Transport Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Parks Canada, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the Village of Queen Charlotte, Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, Gallagher Marine Systems and the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District are involved in the post-incident analysis process.The MoE says it expects the debrief outcomes will be released early in 2015.

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