Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent makes its way through the ice in Baffin Bay in July 2008. Arctic waterways are increasingly becoming ice-free, opening them up to more marine traffic in recent years.
YELLOWKNIFE, NWT, Feb. 22 /CNW/ - The Harper Government is demonstrating its strong commitment to Canada's North by investing in meteorological and navigational warning services in the Arctic. This will provide enhanced accessibility to weather data and navigational shipping information for mariners, economic sectors and the general population of the North. Environment Minister, the Honourable Peter Kent, and Fisheries and Oceans Minister, the Honourable Gail Shea, announced the $34.8 million investment.
"Our Government is committed to helping the North realize its true potential as a healthy, prosperous and secure region within a strong and sovereign Canada," said Minister Kent. "Today's investment in critical infrastructure to improve weather and marine services in the Arctic confirms our government's confidence in the future of the North."
"Our Government's investment in new navigational areas will allow the Canadian Coast Guard to improve the coverage for Arctic areas not currently covered by satellite," said the Minister Shea. "This improves navigational safety information services for mariners in the Arctic Ocean and supports the Government's Northern Strategy."
As a sovereign and environmentally responsible polar nation, Canada has committed to the International Maritime Organization to provide meteorological and navigational safety information to facilitate the safe management of marine traffic in two well-defined Arctic areas that are substantially within Canadian territory. The areas include Canadian Arctic waters, such as the Northwest Passage, and adjacent waters north of Alaska and along part of the western coast of Greenland.
"This government is making significant investments in the delivery of meteorological and navigational services in the Arctic to meet Canada's commitments to the International Maritime Organization," said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Member of Parliament for Nunavut, Minister Responsible for the North, and Minister of Health. "This commitment reaffirms our position as a sovereign and environmentally responsible polar nation."
The investment of $26.5 million over five years to Environment Canada, and $8.3 million over five years to Fisheries and Oceans will greatly aid in this effort, as shipping in Canada's Arctic is expected to increase in the future due to reduced ice coverage and increasingly navigable waters.
This funding announced under Budget 2010 will go towards ensuring that weather and ice forecast services and warning operations will be provided around-the-clock. Bulletins will be disseminated as part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, where satellite coverage exists, and also through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' high frequency radios where satellite coverage has not yet been established. Enhanced information will also be available through existing domestic channels.
As part of its meteorological commitment to the North, the Government of Canada also recently established a new satellite reception and processing station in Resolute Bay, Nunavut. Data from this station will enhance access to satellite images to support the delivery of weather and ice information to mariners in these areas.
For more information and to view a backgrounder on this announcement, please visit the Web site of Environment Canada, at
Department of Fisheries and Oceans:

Arctic marine weather, nav tools get $35M

Arctic mariners will have better access to weather data and navigational warnings in the Northwest Passage and other northern waterways, where marine traffic is expected to pick up as the sea ice shrinks.
Environment Minister Peter Kent announces the $34.8 million for Arctic marine services Tuesday in Yellowknife.Environment Minister Peter Kent announces the $34.8 million for Arctic marine services Tuesday in Yellowknife. (CBC)
Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent announced $34.8 million in five-year funding on Tuesday for improved Arctic weather forecasts, ice information and marine navigational services.
Kent said in the next five years, those services will be available around the clock, year-round, as opposed to being available only on a seasonal basis.
"It will allow us to provide Arctic mariners with daily weather and ice information essential for safe routing through ice-infested waters," he told reporters in Yellowknife on Tuesday.
"The service will also provide mariners with navigational information with weather warnings and other safety messages."
Most of the federal money — about $26.5 million — will come from Environment Canada, while the rest will come from the federal Fisheries and Oceans Department. The funding was announced in the 2010 budget.

Safety in Northwest Passage

Federal officials say Canada is committed to the International Maritime Organization to ensure ships navigate safely through the Northwest Passage and its adjacent waters north of Alaska and along part of Greenland's western coast.
Canada maintains that the Northwest Passage is a Canadian waterway, while the United States and other countries have argued that it is an international passage.
Information bulletins will be set out over the INMARSAT-C satellite, over DFO's high-frequency radios in areas where there is no satellite coverage, and through existing domestic channels.
In a release, federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea said the funding will allow the Canadian Coast Guard to improve its coverage of parts of the Arctic that are not covered by satellite.
As well, Environment Canada has set up a new satellite reception and processing station in Resolute, Nunavut, to track data from polar-orbiting meteorological satellites, say federal officials.
The station in Resolute is the third to receive data from polar orbiting satellites. Environment Canada has two other stations in Edmonton and in Gander, N.L.

N.W.T. Weatheradio service expanding

Kent also announced Tuesday that Environment Canada is expanding its Weatheradio service in the Northwest Territories, by adding nine broadcast locations.
Seven locations are already up and running. By the time the two other sites are implemented this summer, the Weatheradio service will be available to 93 per cent of the Northwest Territories, Kent said.
Weatheradio broadcasts Environment Canada's weather information, such as storm warnings, across a countrywide network 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
This week marks Kent's first visit to the Northwest Territories as environment minister, and he is expected to hear aboriginal leaders' concerns about a recent federal decision to open up a wilderness area to mining.
The Dehcho First Nations has already asked the Federal Court to overturn the Indian and Northern Affairs Department's decision to remove the ban on subsurface mining on the Horn Plateau.

Horn Plateau protection disputed

The Dehcho Dene consider the Horn Plateau — about 25,000 square kilometres in the south-central part of the territory — a sacred place and an important hunting ground.
The Horn Plateau covers 25,000 square kilometres in the south-central part of the Northwest Territories.The Horn Plateau covers 25,000 square kilometres in the south-central part of the Northwest Territories. (CBC)
Called Edehzhie in the Slavey language, the plateau is a habitat for various bird and animal species and is known to have potentially significant oil and gas deposits.
In its application to the Federal Court late last year, the Dehcho First Nations says Ottawa's decision to remove the subsurface mining ban — while keeping a ban on surface activities such as logging — breaches an agreement made through the N.W.T. Protected Areas Strategy.
"We've got to have it both, top and bottom, protected in order for it to be effective," Dehcho Grand Chief Sam Gargan told CBC News on Monday, referring to surface and subsurface protection.
"If you only have the Protected Areas Strategy that doesn't protect the bottom, then it's really a mockery."
Kent and Gargan are expected to fly over the Horn Plateau so the minister could get a better idea of why aboriginal groups and the N.W.T. government want the area to be protected.

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