chapter  21
Environment Canada’s Atlantic Sensitivity Mapping Program
Pages 14

Canada’s Atlantic Region along with other regions across the country have focused on providing consistent and standardized applications related to coastal mapping and data integration/generation during a drill or spill incident. This consistency is crucial if personnel are to be brought in from different regions, as they are immediately familiar with the process and terminology. In an effort to protect the environment and mitigate potential impacts, Environment Canada’s Atlantic Sensitivity Mapping Program (ASMP) was designed to provide this level of support to environmental responders. The ASMP has become a very powerful tool providing a consistent terminology through the entire range of pre-spill planning, preparedness, and real-time response activities. This paper will describe the scope, objectives, and current status of this mapping initiative and highlight recent developments in combining the full range of activities from data generation and decision development to the generation of sensitivity mapping. The desktop mapping application provides an easy-to-use approach to the manipulation, display and output of a wide range of technical and supporting data and information stored in various databases. In the development of its mapping program, Environment Canada relied on crucial partnerships with organizations willing to share data and expertise. Response managers and environmental responders now have access to sensitive resource information that normally would be difficult to collate and present in a map form under the pressures of a spill response. The objective of developing and maintaining the best possible sensitivity mapping system is to provide planners and managers with the full range of information they require as part of pre-spill activities as well as resource protection recommendations at the time of a spill. The data and information are based on consistent sets of terms and definitions that describe the shore-zone character, the objectives and strategies for a specific response, and the methods by which those

objectives may be achieved. These data are linked with other resource information in a GIS based system. Standard or accepted terms, definitions, and shoreline segmentation procedures are already in place for describing the shore-zone character and shorezone oiling conditions. In this program, a set of standardized objectives and strategy statements have been developed that can be entered easily into a database; these provide a better level of consistency than do phrases or sentences constructed by different recorders or evaluators. The suggested protection and treatment objectives and strategies are intended for consideration by the spill response management team. The actual type and volume of spilled oil, plus local environmental conditions and local priorities would be brought to bear on the decision process at the time of a spill. The suggested objectives and strategies provide a starting point and a framework for decision makers and planning and operations managers to discuss objectives and priorities. The concept of management by objectives provides a framework for decision-makers to set the goals of an operation at both the regional and a segment-by-segment level (Percy, LeBlanc, Owens, 1997). The pre-spill database is integrated with the actual Sensitivity Mapping Program which is capable of displaying natural, cultural and man-made features vulnerable to oil spills. The computerized mapping system facilitates quick access and management of multiple data sets. A user-friendly interface allows queries and statistical analysis of data and display of graphical outputs. The system provides a tool for both planning and response; information can be accessed or modified using a laptop computer and real-time spill information or trajectory model outputs can be incorporated.