Marine Response Planning and Preparedness

Marine pollution is an important issue at both a regional and sub-regional scale.

Marine pollution recommendations in the MaPP marine plans focus on pollution prevention, mitigation, and managing effects on associated ecosystems. MaPP partners recognize that additional work around planning and implementation is required to build the necessary capacity for effective response to marine incidents, especially those that pose a risk to life, the environment and communities.

To address this gap, a regional strategy for marine incident response planning and preparedness, along with a guide for preparing geographic response plans (GRP) and geographic response strategies (GRS), have been completed for the MaPP region. The strategy includes recommendations for marine response planning and preparedness to protect sensitive and vulnerable resources and sites during a marine incident, such as an oil spill, vessel casualty, seismic event, or severe storm. The regional guide aligns with the principles in the regional strategy, and outlines a detailed process for developing a GRP and GRS within the MaPP Region. The guide is compatible with the federal government’s 2016 Oceans Protection Plan, offering a collaborative approach inclusive of federal, provincial and First Nations governments and coastal communities.

The work completed by MaPP to develop the strategy and guide lays the foundation for each sub-region to develop GRP and related GRS that recognize and aim to protect each coastal community’s social, cultural, ecological and commercial values. Defining the underlying principles and preferred process to GRP and GRS development is an important first step by MaPP towards structured and co-ordinated out-reach and broad, collaborative marine response planning and preparedness throughout the MaPP region.

The MaPP strategy and accompanying guide defines a geographic response plan (GRP) as ‘a regional plan for marine incidents that identifies notifications, logistical needs, protection sites, and response strategies to facilitate decision-making and field response in the event of a marine incident.’ A GRP provides an umbrella for multiple, site-specific geographic response strategies (GRS) within a region. A GRS is a pre-established tactical plan tailored to protect a specific area of concern during a marine incident if operationally feasible. A GRS includes practical and logistical information to facilitate quick deployment during an incident. It is typically a 2-3 page document with maps, photos, diagrams and instructions to be used by operational field personnel. Together, GRP and GRS ensure that initial resources such as response equipment and responders are deployed strategically, to protect high-value coastal resources at risk of adverse impacts.