Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith for her advocacy.
Trade is a key priority for our government and for Canadians. Canada's trade with countries in the Asia-Pacific region continues to grow. As these trade volumes rise, our west coast ports, our gateways, experience increased activity. This means that on occasion more vessels are ready to enter the port than there are berths available at terminals.
There is, generally speaking, an effective system for managing these vessels at Canadian port authorities and public ports. In order to ensure the safe and secure movement of marine traffic, ships that are waiting to dock at a Canada port authority or a public port are directed to a designated anchorage within the port's waters, pending the availability of a berth at the appropriate facility or terminal.
Under the Canada Marine Act, Canada port authorities and public ports have the authority to assign and manage anchorage spots within their area of jurisdiction. If a ship arrives at a port but no berth is available at the terminal, the port directs it to wait at a designated anchorage within the port's jurisdiction. From time to time, anchorages within port's boundaries may be full or a vessel may be too large for a port's designated anchorages. In these cases, the vessel would need to anchor outside the port's waters.
In recent years, the west coast in particular has seen an increase in the use of local anchorages due to high volumes of traffic. We are aware this creates significant concern for local communities affected by vessel noise and lights.
The Canada Shipping Act currently does not provide for the Governor in Council or the Minister of Transport to designate, approve, or manage anchorage sites in waters outside of the jurisdiction of Canada port authorities and public ports.
Our government recognizes that the environmental integrity of Canadian waters is essential to the well-being of our marine transportation system. Developing a process to identify and manage anchorages outside of a Canada port authority or public port is one of the many important marine safety initiatives in Canada's oceans protection plan. This work, involving technical experts and stakeholder and community consultation, will help to ensure Canada continues to prosper economically, while protecting our marine environment.