July 19, 2005

Canada planes to monitor Arctic for ship pollution

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian spotter planes will for the
first time start monitoring Arctic waters for illegal
discharges of waste by ships which could damage the region's
delicate environment, officials said on Tuesday.

As part of an experiment, the aircraft, which currently
monitor ice conditions in the North, will look for signs of
pollution from ships until the end of October, when the waters

"We have observed an increase in shipping and oil drilling
and exploration activities in the past few years," Environment
Minister Stephane Dion said in a statement.

Officials fear that an oil spill in the Arctic could have
catastrophic effects on the environment, in part because the
region's remoteness means it would take a long time to send
help to the affected area.

Canada will decide whether to repeat the Arctic patrols
next summer once the data from this year's experiment has been

Canada already conducts aerial pollution surveys over major
shipping routes in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, throughout
the Gulf of St. Lawrence and in the Great Lakes and St.
Lawrence River system.