3. Icebreaking Clients

Marine transportation is the most cost effective method to transport goods and is more environmentally friendly than any other mode of transportation for the delivery of Canadian goods. Consequently, the quantities of atmospheric pollutants emitted by marine transportation, including greenhouse gases, are less than those produced by other modes when expressed per tonne-kilometreFootnote 2. During the winter, ice-covered ports such as Montreal, Cornerbrook and Sept-Iles rely on icebreaking services for their economic viability and stability. Ice management for flood control prevents millions of dollars in property damage along the St. Lawrence River. In the Arctic, cargo vessels and tankers resupplying Northern communities depend upon icebreakers for route assistance in order to access the ports in the delivery of essential fuel and goods.

The need for icebreaker support has changed over the last decade due to many factors. Marine traffic levels have evolved with an increase in the number of efficient, ice-capable vessels, the introduction of year-round ferries, the reduction in some maritime industries due to the economy and increases elsewhere. The Coast Guard has also focussed on improvements in the provision of high-quality ice information and recommended ice routes to mariners as well as new technologies for monitoring ice conditions in real-time on the St. Lawrence River, for modeling ice conditions on the East Coast and in new navigation equipment for vessels operating in ice. Together, these technical and technological improvements have contributed to reduce the demands for escorts.

Another significant influence is an increase in demand for icebreaker support in the Arctic. The number of voyages in the Canadian Arctic has increased by 40% and the length of the season has expanded by several weeks, with ships arriving well before the earliest icebreaker, and delivering dry cargo and fuel well after the last icebreaker departs for the South. Fishing vessels now remain in the North for even longer periods than in previous years.

The following two figures indicate the level of marine traffic in ice-covered waters in Southern and Northern Canada, extracted from the Marine Communications and Traffic Services Information System on Marine Navigation (INNAV) database.

Figure 1: Number of vessel movements in Southern Canada in Ice Zones

Figure 1: Number of vessel movements in Southern Canada in Ice Zones as described in Table 1 below

Table 1: Number of vessel movements in Southern Canada in Ice Zones
YearBargesFactory ShipsFishing VesselsMerchantFerry/PassengerTugsTotal

Figure 2: Number of voyages in Northern Canada

Figure 2: Number of voyages in Northern Canada as described in Table 2 below

Table 2: Number of voyages in Northern Canada
Canadian Vessels384845485375747494
Foreign Vessels393117171530352639
Cruise Ships91017121517201118
Research Vessels51441081178
Pleasure Craft27696571113


Footnote 2


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