Marine Domain Awareness Project

- The BC Electronic Marine Highway -


The Marine Domain Awareness project is a shared project between the Nanaimo Port Authority (NPA) and Xanatos Marine (of North Vancouver).  The project seeks to develop a model for Marine Domain Awareness (MDA), and vessel monitoring over the approaches to and within the NPA’s jurisdiction. 

The MDA supports NPA’s mandate to ensure:

  • vessel safety
  • security
  • environmental protection and
  • precise navigation

This is achieved through the integration of land-based sensors such as radar, AIS, CCTV cameras and water based sensors such as wind, tide, current, visibility, salinity and potentially hydrophones installed on buoys and on the ocean floor.

The data from each of these sensors is brought to a single location and displayed in a layered format to provide full situational awareness for the NPA staff located in the Coordination Center. The real-time weather data is currently being broadcast to surrounding vessels, thereby assisting Bridge Resource Management Teams in real-time decision making.

The MDA system architecture followed the multi-stakeholder design of the Marine Electronic Highway (MEH) project in the Malacca Straights, Indonesia which was overseen by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), funded by the World Bank and successfully implemented by Xanatos Marine. NPA has worked with Xanatos Marine to adapt the system to the needs of the BC marine community and the regulatory regime.  The multi-stakeholder design allows each stakeholder to have access to important data improving situational awareness and allowing for informed decisions to be made based on real-time data.

The MDA project has been in the development phase for over 18 months and is now operational as a “proof of concept” in the Nanaimo Harbour. Over the next year the system will be tested and validated by NPA staff and selected “Port Partners” to augment Canada’s already robust Marine Safety and Security system. This is a new project which the NPA believes will help shape Electronic Navigation and be a component of Canada’s quest for safer seas.