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Clear Seas: Independent, unbiased, fact-based research centre launches in Vancouver

By BCShippingNews 06 July 2015
Research centre to look at all aspects of shipping...

Canada’s Minister of Transport, the Honourable Lisa Raitt, joined marine shipping experts, non-government organizations and other officials today to announce the launch of Canada’s first independent research organization to examine marine shipping in Canada.

Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping is an independent, not-for-profit organization that will provide impartial and evidence-based research to inform the public and policy makers about marine traffic in Canadian waters, including risks, mitigation measures, and best practices worldwide for safe and sustainable marine shipping.

Click here to see photos from the press conference and reception.

“This is an important initiative not only for the promotion of safe and responsible marine shipping but for the growth of Canada’s economy,” said Minister Raitt. “Clear Seas will be able to share knowledge and recommend policy options about marine shipping based on reliable and fact-based information.”

Background

Clear Seas was established after discussions with the marine shipping sector, port authorities, First Nations, non-governmental organizations, coastal communities, and other stakeholders concerned about marine shipping risks, prevention, preparedness, and response strategies for Canada’s coastlines and waterways. While the initial concept focused on West Coast activities specifically, the mandate was expanded to include all of Canada’s coastlines.

The Centre’s start-up funding comes from the Federal Government, the Government of Alberta and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers with each contributing $3.7 million with support agreements very clearly noting the arms-length independence of Clear Seas. The funds will be used to support the operational set-up, commencement of independent research activities and the pro-active engagement and dialogue with the marine shipping sector, non-governmental organizations, First Nations, coastal communities and other stakeholders.

“We are pleased to be involved in the launch of Clear Seas,” said Tim McMillan, President and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. “Safe and sustainable marine shipping is in everyone’s interest and is one of the Province’s five conditions for approval of the proposed pipeline projects. As Canada’s trade with other countries continues to grow, and with it more marine traffic, we need to protect our waterways and shorelines and involve First Nations and coastal communities in ongoing dialogue. Clear Seas will provide the credibility and transparency, based on their independent analysis, to facilitate those discussions.”

Formulas for subsequent funding will be secured through the establishment of a fee mechanism supported by the marine shipping sector. Duncan Wilson, Vice President Corporate Social Responsibility, Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) – a key instigator of the concept for an independent research centre – noted that work is still underway in reaching out to other ports and governments across Canada. Wilson noted that Port Metro Vancouver and the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA)  were both already committed to supporting the centre.

Dynamic board and governance

Recognizing that credibility will be a key factor to the success of Clear Seas, the board of directors – themselves a diverse and experienced group of stakeholders – has selected Dr. Richard Wiefelspuett to head up the centre as the Executive Director. Assisted by Dr. Jody Wright and April Allard, Dr. Wiefelspuett noted that Clear Seas will operate under guiding principles that include “openness, objectivity, excellence, and unbiased research and engagement.”

Dr. Wiefelspuett has over 30 years of international experience in the maritime sector. He has both a Master of Science in Mechanical, Shipbuilding and Offshore Engineering and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering and is perhaps best known to the local industry from his most recent posting as Associate Dean, BCIT School of Transportation, Marine Campus.

Dr. Jody Wright, Clear Seas’ Policy Analyst, is an ocean science expert with a passion for science communication, research management, stakeholder engagement, and leadership. Before joining Clear Seas, she worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, as a science educator at the University of British Columbia, and as a freelance science writer. Jody holds a PhD in Marine Microbiology (University of British Columbia), and a BSc in Environmental Science (Simon Fraser University). 

Chaired by Dr. Kate Moran, the Clear Seas Board is a powerhouse of leaders from various sectors of Canada’s academia, industry and community organizations.

Dr. Kate Moran, Chair: currently President and CEO of Ocean Networks Canada (a not-for-profit society created in 2007 by the University of Victoria to develop and manage the NEPTUNE and VENUS Observatories and to position Canada as an international leader in the science and technology of ocean observing systems). She is also currently a Professor in the Faculty of Science at the University of Victoria.

Kim Baird, O.C., Vice Chair: best known for her role as Chief and Chief Negotiator for Tsawwassen First Nation; member of the BC Minister’s Advisory Council for Aboriginal Women and BC’s Aboriginal Investment Council.

Christopher Causton: currently a Goodwill Ambassador and Captain of Victoria Harbour Ferries; former Mayor of Oak Bay with past service as Chair of the Capital Regional District Board.

Lindsay Gordon: Chancellor of the University of British Columbia and former President & CEO of HSBC Bank Canada.

Dr. John Hepburn: Vice President Research & International at the University of BC.

Bud Streeter: President of Lloyd’s Register Canada Limited with responsibility for Lloyd’s Register’s marine operations in North America.

Roger Thomas: retired Executive Vice President, North America at Nexen Inc. (an upstream oil and gas company responsibly developing energy resources in the UK North Sea, offshore West Africa, the United States and Western Canada).

Duncan Wilson: Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, Port Metro Vancouver.

John Woodward: Partner Owner in Woodcorp Investments; previous CEO, Woodwards Department Stores and current chair of British Columbia Living Rivers, Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund and Pacific Salmon Foundation.

First priorities

Dr. Wiefelspuett reported that one of Clear Seas’ first research projects, commissioned in collaboration with the Council of Canadian Academies, will be a comprehensive analysis of risks associated with marine shipping in Canada, including an examination of the current state of mitigation measures in place. The report is due for public release in early 2016. Additional planned research includes quantifying the economic and social impacts of shipping affecting the livelihoods of Canadians.

More information can be found at: www.clearseas.ca.