Examining the Feasibility of Implementing a Marine Mammal Oil Spill Response in Canada [graduate project].
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The coastal waters surrounding Canada are home to diverse ecosystems that provide rich feeding grounds and critical habitat for many marine species. Marine mammals face numerous anthropogenic threats to their recovery and preservation. They are physically exposed to oil through direct deposition, ingestion, or inhalation of toxic vapours at the water-air interface. The adverse effects of oil exposure are dependent on the type of oil encountered and the amount and means of exposure. There are several activities that take place in Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which have the potential to harm marine mammals by leaking toxic substances into the water-column. There are real, perceived, and potential risks, in addition to transboundary agreements and federal obligations to protect marine resources that warrant the creation of federal marine mammal oil spill response. In an effort to meet national and international obligations, the development of a marine mammal oil spill response protocol is a relatively low cost endeavour that can mitigate high risk scenarios and should be integrated into wider Spill Management Systems for marine oil spills. Through the utilization of the current marine mammal response network, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) can provide training to responders that could be funded through the Marine Mammal Response Program. Response will be most feasible and effective if DFO works with Transport Canada to amend the Response Organization’s and Oil Handling Facilities Regulations to include marine mammal response and rehabilitation, as the polluter would have to cover costs associated with response as opposed to the government.