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Global treaty to halt invasive aquatic species enters into force

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A key international measure for environmental protection that aims to stop the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species in ships’ ballast water enters into force today (8 September 2017).

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) requires ships to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless, or avoid the uptake or discharge of aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water and sediments.

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MIB Info Update: Énergie Saguenay and belugas

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In response to an article that ran in the daily newspaper Le Journal de Montréal on September 6, 2017 about the development of a methane port project in the Saguenay and its impact on the beluga, the Maritime Information Bureau (MIB) would like to rectify the following information:

1. Fact sheet issued by federal authorities vs. formal notice from Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Contrary to what is indicated in the article, the document from Fisheries and Oceans Canada is not a formal DFO notice on GNL Québec’s Énergie Saguenay project, but a “fact sheet issued by federal authorities.” This type of fact sheet is actually a form the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEEA) distributes to the different federal government departments concerned after a promoter tables a project description. On this fact sheet, the federal government departments can indicate the expertise they have to eventually perform an environmental assessment of the project and to raise its potential and anticipated adverse effects. This work precedes the environmental impact study and is not at all an exhaustive analysis or assessment of a project or its environmental impacts.

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MIB Info Update: Shipping Regulations

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In response to an article that ran in the daily newspaper Le Quotidien on August 16, 2017, the Maritime Information Bureau (MIB) would like to point out that virtually all aspects of the shipping industry are highly regulated, as shown below (ref).

1. International regulations

The very nature of shipping, which is central to global trade, requires regulation at the international level. International maritime regulations are developed by specialized United Nations agencies, such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The IMO currently has 172 member states and the conventions (about 30) it has developed since its creation address various aspects, including international shipping safety and security and the prevention of pollution from ships. According to the IMO, “[…] many Conventions now apply to more than 98% of world merchant shipping tonnage (ref).”

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GREEN MARINE PARTICIPANTS EMBRACE NEW ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES

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Green Marine is marking its 10th anniversary as North America’s environmental certification program for the maritime industry by holding its annual conference at the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six until tomorrow. GreenTech 2017 opened this morning with the release of the 2016 environmental performance results of Green Marine’s more than 100 participants and a good news story to share.

Green Marine’s participants obtained an overall average of 3.1 on a 1-to-5 scale that has Level 1 requiring the monitoring of regulations and Level 5 reflecting excellence and leadership. The overall average of the participants for all performance indicators has remained quite steady over the past few years even though new indicators have been introduced and the criteria for existing indicators have been made significantly more demanding in several cases.

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MIB Info Update: Ballast Waters and Aquatic Invasive Species

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In response to an article that ran in the daily newspaper Le Devoir on March 18, 2017, the Marine Information Bureau (MIB) would like to clarify a few things regarding ballast water management measures applicable to vessels navigating in Canada.

Ballast water – What is it?

Ballast water is essential for the safe operation of merchant ships, allowing them to navigate at the proper depth and ensuring their stability. Ballasting is necessary when a vessel carries heavy cargo in one hold and a lighter load in another, when it is travelling empty or when the sea is rough.

When ballast waters are discharged, non-indigenous, potentially invasive, aquatic species may be introduced. However, international and Canadian regulations have been in effect for a number of years now (2004 and 2006 respectively) to address this problem.

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GREEN MARINE RELEASES ITS NEW PERFORMANCE INDICATORS FOR UNDERWATER NOISE

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Quebec City, Wednesday, January 25, 2017 – Green Marine is broadening the scope of its North American environmental certification program by adding two performance indicators dealing with underwater noise emanating from ships and port activities respectively, with the goal of reducing the impact on marine mammals.

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The Polar Code entered into force

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With more and more ships navigating in polar waters, IMO has moved to address international concern about the protection of the polar environment and the safety of seafarers and passengers with the introduction of new regulations that all ships operating in these harsh and challenging waters must comply with.

The mandatory Polar Code, for ships operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters, enters into force on 1 January 2017, marking a historic milestone in the work of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to address this key issue. Its requirements, which were specifically tailored for the polar environments, go above and beyond those of existing IMO conventions such as MARPOL and SOLAS, which are applicable globally and will still apply to shipping in polar waters.

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Global treaty to halt invasive aquatic species to enter into force in 2017

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Accession by Finland has triggered the entry into force of a key international measure for environmental protection that aims to stop the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species in ships’ ballast water.

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) will enter into force on 8 September 2017, marking a landmark step towards halting the spread of invasive aquatic species, which can cause havoc for local ecosystems, affect biodiversity and lead to substantial economic loss. Under the Convention’s terms, ships will be required to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless, or avoid the uptake or discharge of aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water and sediments.

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MIB Info Update: Marine Mammals and Underwater Noise

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In response to an article that ran in the daily newspapers Journal de Québec and Journal de Montréal on May 7, 2016, we would like to set a few facts straight regarding underwater noise caused by shipping traffic and its impact on marine mammals. The Marine Information Bureau would like to point out that:

1. No autopsy
As mentioned in the article, no autopsy was carried out on the small whale found beached at Saint-Nicolas on May 1. As a result, it is impossible to know whether this marine mammal’s hearing system was damaged and whether there really is a relation between underwater noise and that fact that it ran ashore.

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MIB Info Update: tankers on the St. Lawrence River

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Concerning a column published on February 6, 2016 in the Journal de Québec and the Journal de Montréal, some clarification is necessary on tankers navigating the St. Lawrence River. The MIB would like to point out that:

1. Supertankers
No supertanker has ever travelled the St. Lawrence. By definition, a supertanker is a ship carrying oil and measuring more than 400 m in length. The maximum length of ships navigating the St. Lawrence is currently about 300 m.

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