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Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world, and shares the largest freshwater lake system on earth. Canadian marine transportation in the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans and the Great Lakes¬-St. Lawrence River system carries more than $200 billion of Canada's international trade; total marine freight traffic is nearly 450 million tonnes. There are more than 50 000 pilotage assignments every year. Over 50 000 registered fishermen in Canada work on more than 14 000 vessels.

In this environment, transportation safety is crucial—and it is improving. In 2011, 322 marine accidents were reported to the TSB, representing a 37-year low, down 22% from the 2006–2010 average. In the last decade, nearly 90% of marine accidents have been shipping accidents, while the remaining 10% have been accidents aboard ship.

The TSB’s marine investigators are certified as masters or chief engineers of commercial vessels, masters of fishing vessels, or are naval architects, and have extensive experience in the marine industry. As well as conducting investigations, they participate in national and international government and industry groups to monitor safety trends and communicate safety issues to change agents.