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World Wildlife Day: Discovering and Preserving Our Oceans


March 3 marks the first UN World Wildlife Day specifically dedicated to raising awareness of- and preserving - life below water. Our oceans and coastlines really are incredible places. Of the (approximate) 200,000 identified marine species, there are likely millions more shrouded in secrecy beneath the waves.

Oceans support life in much the same way that forests do; they regulate climate, absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen and provide nutrients to surrounding organisms. 

A number of our businesses are deeply invested in the well-being of marine ecosystems, not just on the East Cost of Canada, but across the Northwestern Atlantic, Arctic Ocean, Pacific Coast and the North Sea. 

Knowledge is Power: VOS and MEOPAR Initiatives

In 2016 Irving Shipbuilding confirmed support for 6 research projects in partnership with MEOPAR (Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response).  The selected projects are:

In recent years, Atlantic Towing (ATL) has partnered with the researchers at Dalhousie University to install sensors on one of its Offshore Vessels that would enable the ship to collect observations from continental shelf waters on Canada's East Coast. This program advances both the Voluntary Observer Ships (VOS) Program and the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) network initiative - both spearheaded by Dalhousie researchers with funding support from Irving Shipbuilding.. 

The new sensors actively monitor ocean conditions, measuring temperature, salinity, chlorophyll, oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gasses. In addition, the vessel has been outfitted with a holographic microscope for identifying plankton and acoustic transponders for measuring ocean current velocities. On-board atmospheric measurements will yield new insights into climate change and marine visibility research, while a remotely-operated vehicle may be used to explore the sea floor and collect samples for testing in future. 

This partnership is incredibly valuable to researchers because customized, designated research vessels are costly to build and operate. By leveraging a commercial vessel that regularly traverses regions of interest to the research team - in this case, the Scotian Shelf - the desired data becomes available at a far more attainable expense.

"The [sensors] have no effect whatsoever on ships' operations, and must pass all applicable safety standards," said Doug Wallace of Dalhousie University. His team worked with ATL over the summer months to outfit the vessel, the Atlantic Condor , with those sensors.

“This project could not have been achieved without the tremendous effort put forth by the crew of the Atlantic Condor," added Wallace. "The support and cooperation from all team members has enabled Atlantic Towing to provide valuable data for the research community, and demonstrate our commitment to emerging environmental initiatives.” 

 Atlantic Condor - World Wildlife Day 2019


Sustainable Oceans

ATL is a Green Marine certified organization, and has maintained this accreditation since 2008. Green Marine is a voluntary, transparent and inclusive program encompassing ship owners, ports, seaways, terminals and shipyards across North America. To qualify, organizations benchmark their annual performance against 12 key environmental indicators. These include greenhouse gas emissions, environmental leadership, community impact, and underwater noise, among others. Over the 11 years since becoming a Green Marine organization, ATL has increased its efforts to drive environmental performance, specifically relating to marine wildlife awareness and reducing underwater noise. A Marine Mammal Management Program is currently in development.

In addition, ATL meets the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) 14001, a voluntary standard that specifies requirements and a framework for an effective environmental management system. 


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As a leading provider of marine and coastal services, Atlantic Towing Limited (ATL) has a number of ongoing initiatives aimed to reduce its impact on marine mammal populations. Continue reading for the full story!



Protecting Marine Mammals

Each vessel in ATL's fleet - tugboat or offshore vessel - is equipped with a copy of A Mariner's Guide to Whales in the Northwest Atlantic, a guidebook that helps crew members identify and steer clear of whales, dolphins and other marine mammals they might encounter while at-sea. Large posters provide additional information, like common whale population distribution maps, critical habitat zones and contact numbers for reporting marine mammal observations, incidents or sightings to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. 

 Whale Fin - World Wildlife Day 2019


"If you see tail, fin or spray - stay far enough away!"

ATL vessels take additional precautions, complying with mandated or advised speed reduction zones and avoiding regions known to have dense populations of marine life (voluntary avoidance areas). The business goes above and beyond to relay these recommendations and regulations to the vessels and their crews, and it participates in various marine wildlife observance programs.

"Atlantic Towing has voluntarily contributed to several different programs to help improve our environmental profile and reduce impact on marine mammals," said Jordan Sawler, a Naval Architect with ATL. "This is important because we're all sharing the ocean together, whether it be for commercial, industrial, or recreational pursuits, or the native marine life."