Number of Marine Pollution Spills from Identified Vessels

In 2013–2014, the National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP) detected 214 marine pollution incidents through 3877 pollution patrol hours (a 70% increase in patrol hours from 2009–2010). In 2013–2014, the NASP flew over 19 989 vessels and detected 219 627 vessels through an Automatic Identification System that receives vessel identity and voyage information.

Managed by Transport Canada, the NASP monitors ships transiting waters under Canadian jurisdiction. Evidence gathered by the NASP is used to enforce the provisions of Canadian legislation applicable to illegal discharges from ships.

The NASP aircraft conduct surveillance in all regions of Canada. In fiscal year 2013–2014, the number of spills from identified vessels detected per hour of patrol was 23% higher than in 2009–2010. The number of vessels overflown per hour was also 4% higher in fiscal year 2013–2014 than in 2009–2010.

Number of spills from identified vessels detected per patrol hour and total volume of spills detected, Canada, 2009–2010 to 2013–2014


Long description

On the left axis, the chart shows, the number of spills from identified vessels that the National Aerial Surveillance Program's aircraft detected for each hour of patrol (represented by linked points) between fiscal years 2009–2010 and 2013–2014. On the right axis, the chart shows the total volume of observed spills (represented by bars) between fiscal years 2009–2010 and 2013–2014. The number of spills detected per patrol hour increased during the overall period, but there were annual variations. The lowest number of spills from identified vessels detected per patrol hours occurred in 2010–2011 and the highest occurred in 2013–2014. The total volume of spills detected decreased from 8110 litres in 2009–2010 to 4453 litres in 2013–2014, with a low of 1014 litres in 2011–2012.

Data for this chart
Number of spills from identified vessels detected per patrol hour and total volume of spills detected, Canada, 2009–2010 to 2013–2014
Fiscal yearNumber of vessels over-flownPatrol hoursVolume of spills detected from identified vessels
Number of spills detected from identified vesselsSpills detected from identified vessels per patrol hourTotal volume of spills detected
Total number of spills detected
2009–201011 262227486.8210.0098110109
2010–201112 3652506373.9110.004929684
2011–201212 0322064415.2160.0081014135
2012–201310 13420806734.5140.007781397
2013–201419 98938772693.9440.0114453214

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 842 B)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The difference between total spills and spills by identified vessels represents spills that were detected but for which the source is unknown. The large increase in volume of spills observed in 2012–2013 can be attributed to the sinking of two ships, which together accounted for spills of 5097.8 litres. For fiscal year 2013–2014, the NASP aircraft increased their patrol hours by 86.4% from, the previous year, which resulted in an increase in the number of spills observed (44), but the majority of the spills were less than 10 litres. The state–of–the–art–surveillance suite on board each aircraft can detect spills of less than one litre.
Source: Marine Safety and Security Directorate (2014) Transport Canada.

Transport Canada regulations and standards, under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act, combined with international conventions and standards established by the International Maritime Organization, provide the framework for the department's comprehensive marine safety, pollution prevention, enforcement, and oil spill preparedness and response programs.

Surveillance data gathered by the NASP aircraft serve many additional purposes beyond marine spills detection, including ice patrol, bird and whale surveys, marine security, environmental enforcement, and enhancing marine domain awareness by acquiring data to help complete the recognized maritime picture in Canada.

Canada has the world's longest coastline with 243 000 kilometres along the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans, as well as the Great Lakes. Canada also has some of the most difficult waters to navigate due to extreme conditions, strong current and frigid waters. Marine activity is growing in Canada, with total tonnage of cargo handled by Canada's port system increasing by 1.5% per year between 2002 and 2012.Footnote [1]

Related information


This indicator is used to measure progress toward Target 3.8: Marine Pollution – Releases of Harmful Pollutants: Protect the marine environment by an annual 5% reduction in the number of releases of harmful pollutants in the marine environment by vessels identified during pollution patrol from 2013–16 of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy 2013–2016.

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