To facilitate the Harbour Master’s responsibilities, Nanaimo Port Authority (NPA) has created a Marine Domain Awareness System (MDA) which utilizes active and passive sensors linked to an Operations Center, and a Patrol Division which consists of three vessels.

The MDA project is a shared project between NPA and Xanatos Marine (of North Vancouver). This project represents an investment of $2.2 million dollars to ensure the ports obligations to provide “waterside security” as required under the Marine Transportation Security Regulations (MTSR) are fulfilled. The project seeks to develop a model for Marine Domain Awareness, and vessel monitoring over the approaches to and within NPA’s jurisdiction.

MDA supports NPA’s mandate to ensure vessel safety, security, environmental protection and precise navigation, which are 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 are brought to a single location and displayed in a layered format to provide full situational awareness for NPA staff located in the Operations 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 is based on and followed principles established by 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 Nanaimo Harbour. During 2016 the system will be tested and validated by NPA staff and selected “Port Partners” to augment Canada’s Marine Safety and Security system. This is a new project which NPA believes will help shape Electronic Navigation and will be a valuable component of Canada’s quest for safer seas.

A video presentation is available at Questions may be directed to Captain Edward S. Dahlgren, email: