October 29, 2007

Green Marine program aims to minimize the shipping industry's environmental footprint

The marine industry in Quebec and the rest of Canada has officially launched its own environmental program. The Green Marine program covering the St Lawrence and Great Lakes corridor is the first of its kind in North America.

Its creation represents a successful step in dealing with the challenge posed by an industry that encompasses multiple diverse activities--ports and terminals, domestic and international shipowners, stevedoring companies and the St Lawrence Seaway.

The Green Marine program comprises a series of action plans developed to address six major issues specific to its operations: aquatic invasive species, pollutant air emissions (including dust and odors as well as noise and light), greenhouse gases, cargo residues, oily waters (from ships), and conflicts of use in port and terminals. Each action plan includes initiatives to be carried out at the collective level (i.e. by the industry as a whole, usually requiring government participation) and the corporate level (i.e. by individual companies, whose progress will be measured against performance indicators and ranked on a five-point ascending scale).

Green Marine was founded by seven marine industry associations in Canada and the U.S. It is co-chaired by Gerry Carter of Canada Steamship Lines (CSL), Terry Johnson of Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (LSDC) and Laurence Pathy of Fednav. Program participants already include more than 25 leaders representing the bulk of marine operations in the St Lawrence-Great Lakes corridor.

"Each business participating in the program is doing so voluntarily and is subject to a certification process," said CSL's Carter. "Each must set out its environmental challenges and a related action plan. A year may pass before program participants are granted official certification on a scale that ranges from compliance with applicable regulations to excellence and leadership in their practices."

SLDC's Johnson said, "We want certification to become the standard as well as an additional incentive for choosing marine transportation, which is already recognized as environmentally advantageous."

Laurence Pathy of Fednav observed that the desire to excel in this area goes beyond the marine industry, fostering collaboration among management, employees, unions, suppliers, environmental organizations, governments, and the public. He said, "...the solution to environmental challenges lies in everyone's combined efforts. That's why the environmental program officially recognizes the many partners and supporters by authorizing them to display the Green Marine logo."

Program elements are detailed in a 60-page document covering the industry's environmental priorities plus specific actions and measures to be carried out by the relevant parties to address these issues. It may be viewed on the Green Marine Web site, www.Green-Marine.org. The site will also transparently track the performance of each business that receives official certification.

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