The recent Clean Pacific conference in Vancouver brought together experts from Canada and the US to share knowledge, experience and insights about spill prevention and response in marine and dry land environments. Keynote speakers representing the marine transport industries in British Columbia and Washington-California explored several topics related to the importance of binational collaboration in transboundary waters. Here are a few of the highlights from Michael Moore, Vice President, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and Robert Lewis-Manning, President, Chamber of Shipping of BC.

Recent approval of Trans Mountain Expansion Project recognized

This project is not only important to diversifying Canada’s markets to trade and energy, but also demonstrates significant challenges can be mitigated through constructive dialogue; real, tangible commitments; and innovative ideas to solving problems. Congratulations to the Trans Mountain team and its numerous partners that were involved in getting to this point in time.

 — Robert Lewis-Manning

Marine transport industry associations in BC and Washington state are committed to actions protecting southern resident killer whales

In the space of four years our industry, the marine transportation sector, went from knowing almost nothing about this species to making a formal five-year commitment to increasing protective measures through a conservation agreement with the government of Canada. This agreement is the first of its kind in Canada for an aquatic species. Perhaps more importantly, the commitment in this agreement covers both Canadian and US waters and key foraging areas the killer whales use.

— Robert Lewis-Manning

Engagement with Indigenous groups will increase

In Canada I think there are three main influences that will drive how we work together in the future. The first and probably most important is Canada’s relationships with its Indigenous communities – nobody knows what that path looks like yet, but everybody knows it’s an important path to go down.

— Robert Lewis-Manning

Voluntary measures and regulation are both effective in managing marine activity

We have established a voluntary area to be avoided off the Washington coast. We have a lot of success with voluntary measures. We need a strong regulatory structure but we also have to have voluntary measures as well, and that area to be avoided has a 99.9 per cent-plus compliance rate. I think those types of measures can successfully augment the regulatory environment.

— Michael Moore

Prevention is the first priority

I prefer to talk about prevention. It’s worth saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure but I think in this case it’s tonnes of cure. The nugget here is just not having the oil spill in the first place – keep it inside the vessel. On the US side, there have been zero spills from cargo vessels during transit into or out of Puget Sound ports in the entire history of the statistics that started being kept in 1973.

We must continue to be vigilant and we should challenge ourselves to ensure that continuous improvement is our watchword in everything we do.

 — Michael Moore

Spill prevention measures are the best way to manage risk

I still think the biggest bang for the buck is a focus on prevention such as phasing in protectively located fuel tanks, improving navigation procedures in the area between Victoria and Port Angeles, navigation technology, improved pilotage tools and training. As for response, I think you are still going to have calls to increase capabilities if not just maintaining all the spill response equipment and training. I don’t think any amount of prevention success will lead away from that.

— Michael Moore