As overseas trade and the movement of goods increase, there is a need for greater emphasis on marine safety and environmental protection across Canada’s oceans. Its government recognises that enhanced prevention measures are needed to respond to marine pollution incidents faster and more effectively, and to better protect marine ecosystems and habitats. To this end it has acquired a new addition to its National Aerial Surveillance Program aircraft fleet. Through the Government of Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan and the Whales Initiative, a De Havilland Dash 8 will undertake marine surveillance missions to detect oil spills and other marine pollution, and to monitor ship and endangered whale movements.
“Our government is committed to safe navigation and protection of the marine environment,” explains minister of transport, the honourable Marc Garneau. “Expanding our surveillance aircraft fleet allows us to improve local marine reporting and reduce the frequency of oil spills in Canada. This supports our commitment to protecting the endangered marine mammal population.”
Over the next two years, the Dash 8 will undergo modifications to become a maritime patrol aircraft. It will be equipped with specialised maritime surveillance systems that are currently used on Transport Canada’s existing fleet; cameras that can covertly monitor vessels from five miles away and at 20,000 ft altitude.
National Aerial Surveillance Programme aircraft are equipped with technology that can live stream video from the aircraft to personnel on the ground, in offices and to people’s phones. In 2018-19, the programme set a record for the number of hours flown with a total of 4,152 hours of surveillance over 27,520 vessels for an average of 6.63 vessel overflights per hour. Transport Canada is also building a new National Aerial Surveillance Programme Complex in Iqaluit, Nunavut, to support northern operations.
“Transport Canada’s National Aerial Surveillance Program is an essential piece of our government’s efforts to keep Canada’s coasts and inland waters safe and clean,” adds minister of public services and procurement the honourable Anita Anand. “I am pleased to support this work through the procurement of a new Dash 8 aircraft to enhance surveillance capacity under the programme, leading to a cleaner environment and a safer shipping industry.”