I thought I'd bring the ocean to you since you're talking about the ocean.
I'm appearing today representing Ocean Networks Canada. I'm the president and CEO. I've been in this position for five years. Prior to coming to Victoria, I served for two years in the U.S. as an assistant director in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, serving under President Obama's science adviser, John Holdren. During my secondment there, I was selected to be on Secretary of Energy Steven Chu's eight-member science team that oversaw shutting down the flow of oil from the Deepwater Horizon.
At Ocean Networks Canada, I lead an exceptional team that operates the world's leading ocean observing systems. Ocean Networks Canada delivers the Internet-connected ocean by observing and monitoring primarily the west coast but also assets on the east coast and in the Arctic. These are observatories that continuously gather data in real time for scientific research, but they are also important in helping communities and managers make decisions and, for example, in informing decisions such as those you're making today with regard to Bill C-48. These decisions are really important to protecting the ocean now and in the future.
The locations, as you know well, that would be most impacted by an oil spill accident are our oceans and coastlines. At best, coastal oil spill cleanup tools recover less than 10%, sometimes up to 15%, of the oil spilled, which everyone agrees is a pretty dismal record. These facts alone provide support for the intention of Bill C-48.
Seven years ago, the blowout in BP's Deepwater Horizon opened up that spouting spigot of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, marking the beginning of the world's second-largest oil spill. We all watched oil spew from the spigot on 24-7 cable news. I was watching it as we were trying to shut it down. That lasted for months, with feelings of both aversion and shame. After months of work, the spigot was shut, but not before almost five million gallons were spilled. Now, this is totally different from what we're talking about here in terms of tankers, but just bear with me as I talk about these other accidents.
Over 20 years earlier, the Exxon Valdez spilled 42 million litres of crude oil in offshore Alaska, which remains today one of the most devastating spills because of its remote location, the type of oil spilled, and the negative impact on the area's rich biodiversity. Most coastal waters in B.C. resemble those in Alaska where the Exxon Valdez spill occurred. They are remote, the waters are relatively cold, slowing down the breakdown of crude oil, and they consist of many narrow inlets and channels characterized by large tidal ranges and strong tidal currents. These waters are similar to those in B.C. that are home to seabirds; salmon, and other harvestable fish species; sea otters; seals; and resident migrating whales, most notably gray, humpback that are increasing in numbers, and both orca and transient orca whales.
To pause there for a moment, in response to the Exxon Valdez, the tanker industry has done considerable work in reducing accidents with tanker spills, which I'm sure you've heard from other people appearing before you. There were many lessons learned from the Exxon Valdez, which have reduced the risk of tankers going aground in these kinds of waters.
Let me talk about, most recently, the tug Nathan. E. Stewart, which foundered and sank along the rocky coast of B.C. Although the fuel barge it was powering was empty, the tug itself carried 220,000 litres of diesel fuel, and thousands of litres of petroleum-based lubricants. The result is that the pristine coastline and the Heiltsuk First Nation have been negatively impacted, and that impact is still being assessed. We don't know the full impact of that, but certainly the first nation is claiming that there was a significant negative impact.
How could these accidents have happened? When I worked on the BP accident, I was stunned at how the oil industry assured us—as they do today—that their technology advances allowed for safe development and transportation of oil and gas even in the most challenging environments. The simple answer is that each of these disasters was caused by a combination of human error, weak regulations, and a paucity of oversight that relies on robust monitoring.
I think Bill C-48 begins to strengthen the regulation gap and is a positive move forward. It supports, perhaps for the first time, Canada's use of the precautionary principle outlined in the London 1996 protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter.
Ocean Networks Canada recently completed—