Theme III - Protecting Nature

Canada has one of the longest navigable coastlines in the world, from the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes to the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific Oceans. A significant increase in worldwide shipping traffic and the corresponding amount of ballast water discharged by them has resulted in an increase in alien species introductions.

Modern commercial shipping cannot operate without ballast water, which provides balance and stability to ships. Water is pumped into the ballast tanks when the vessel is departing a port of origin and released when it takes on cargo at another port. Over the past 30 years, there has been growing international recognition of potential problems associated with the discharge of ships' ballast water.

The introduction and spread of alien invasive species is a serious problem that has ecological, economic, health and environmental impacts, including loss of native biological diversity. Species are considered alien if they are not native to a given ecosystem. Alien species are considered to be invasive when their introduction causes, or is likely to cause, harm to the environment, the economy, or human health.

For more information on the Canadian Ballast Water Program, please visit Transport Canada's website.

Transport Canada's Commitment

Transport Canada's commitment under Theme III - Protecting Nature is listed below. Clicking on the commitment will bring you to more detailed information.

It is important to note that the numbering of this implementation strategy comes directly from the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.

Goal 6: Ecosystem/Habitat Conservation and Protection


IS 6.4.8

FSDS Theme III - Protecting Nature
Goal 6 - Ecosystem / Habitat Conservation and Protection: Productive and resilient ecosystems with the capacity to recover and adapt are maintained; and areas are protected in ways that leave them unimpaired for present and future generations
Target 6.4 - Managing Threats to Ecosystems: Threats of new alien invasive species entering Canada are understood and reduced by 2015

Implement Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations to prevent invasive species from ships' ballast water. This includes cooperating with the United States Coast Guard and Seaway Authorities to inspect vessels entering the Seaway and Great Lakes to ensure compliance. (TC)

PART 1: Linkage to the departmental PAA

2.2.2 Clean Water Regulatory Oversight

PART 2: A brief description of the implementation strategy

Transport Canada receives reports from vessels and carries out inspections of vessels arriving at Canadian ports to confirm compliance. For vessels entering the shared waters of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes, Transport Canada coordinates a joint Canada-United States inspection program with the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, the

United States Coast Guard, and the US Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. This joint program ensures 100% of vessels originating from foreign ports are inspected to verify compliance prior to entering the Seaway.

In the event non-compliance is found, the vessel is required to take corrective action before entering the Great Lakes.

Ballast water management requirements for ships entering the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System are the most stringent in the world. Transport Canada and U.S. Coast Guard regulations require all ships destined for Great Lakes ports from beyond the exclusive economic zone to exchange their ballast at sea. If the ships have not complied, they are required to retain the ballast water on board, pump the ballast water ashore, treat the ballast water in an environmentally sound manner, or return to sea to conduct a ballast water exchange.

This implementation strategy is linked to 3.8.3 and 3.8.5.

PART 3: An explanation of the relationship between that implementation strategy and one or more Federal Sustainable Development Strategy targets

This measure supports the reduction of invasive species entering Canadian waters, contributing to Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Goal 6.4 - Managing Threats to Ecosystems.

PART 4: An outline of the non-financial performance expectations

Performance Indicators


Results Achieved


Percentage of vessels in compliance with Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations reporting rules

95% by 2017


For 2011-2012, preliminary data indicates that 96% of vessels entering Canadian waters submitted a ballast water report as required by the Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations.  


Percentage of vessels in compliance with Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations reporting rules

95% by 2017



Percentage of vessels in compliance with Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations reporting rules

95% by 2017


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