Marine Vessel Transportation & Environmental Stewardship

Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 in 11-12, Environment | 0 comments

This project-based lesson introduces students to the concept of environmental stewardship in the context of marine transportation and cargo shipping. Students review the Green Marine program of which the Port Authority of Prince Rupert is a participant. Focusing on four main types of pollution associated with marine vessels, students research the impacts of such pollution and the technologies, best practices and regulations that are helping to prevent or reduce it. This lesson is informed by the big idea of Interdependence.


1 teacher-directed session of 40-50 minutes; 4-5 sessions for student-led research and presentation


Students will:

  • Consider some of the environmental challenges associated with international trade
  • Assess the environmental impact of human activities in marine transportation and cargo shipping
  • Identify and analyze impacts of marine transportation on air and water quality and initiatives to mitigate those impacts
  • Work collaboratively to present research findings accurately and clearly and in an engaging format


  • Slideshow of Port Activities and Cargo Ships (see Resources section)
  • Website of the Green Marine program – and, in particular the page that summarizes the program
  • Table of Types of Marine Transportation Pollution (see Resources section)
  • Shipping and the Environment – Online Research Resources (see Resources section)


  • Computer and projector or Smart Board


  • Set up computer and projector or Smart Board to share web-based resources with students.
  • Review the Green Marine program

CRITICAL VOCABULARY (see Glossary for definitions)

Air emissions, Environmental sustainability, Sewage, Ballast water, Grey water, Bilge water, Oil spill


  • Introduce to students the concept of pollution caused by marine vessel transportation (cargo shipping). Ask them to consider what forms and sources of pollution might be associated with marine vessel transportation. As they consider this, play the slideshow of port vessel activity and cargo shipping images to prompt/support students’ identification of the types and sources of pollution.
  • Have students share their thoughts and ideas about the types of pollutions associated with marine vessel transportation. Ask them what they know or think are the impacts of such pollution on the environment. Are any of them aware of what governments and/or the shipping industry might be doing to mitigate these impacts?
  • Introduce students to the Green Marine program via the organization’s website. Using the computer and projector, or a Smart Board, show students the program summary pages of the Green Marine website.
  • With the class explore and discuss the environmental issues associated with the marine industry that the program seeks to address.


  • Explain to the students that they are going to conduct a research project on types of pollution associated with marine vessel transportation and the ways in which they can be reduced/mitigated. Show the students the table of Types of Marine Vessel Transportation Pollution. (The table lists four main categories of pollution: air emissions; ballast water; liquid waste; and oil spills.)
  • Put students into groups of 4 and assign each group one of the pollution categories as the topic of their research project.
  • In their research, students should address the following:
    • Where does the type of marine vessel pollution occur (e.g. close to shore, out at sea, etc.) and what impact does it have on humans and the environment?
    • What legislation, technologies or best practices exist to prevent, reduce or mitigate marine vessel pollution? (Students should try to find practical examples of these and the results/benefits that have been realized as a result.)
    • Classify the types of measures (legislation, technology, or best practices) that are currently in use by vessels when they visit the port in Prince Rupert.
  • Give students a wide choice of formats for presenting their research findings. Options include: a poster, a presentation (e.g. PowerPoint or Prezi), a report, an informational brochure, etc.
  • Share with students the research sources provided in the Resources section of this lesson plan: Shipping and the Environment – Online Research Resources. These resources will provide them with a solid start for their research.


  • Structure the work as a series of teacher-directed lessons rather than as a student-led research project, and provide students with more teacher input, guidance and support (as required).
  • Have the class focus on one of the types of pollution and divide the research questions among groups of students.


Before students begin work on their project (or early on in the research process when they have begun to get a feel for their topic and the material), lead them through the collaborative development of assessment criteria for the final report/presentation.

Criteria could include:

  • Comprehensiveness of information – addressing all of the research questions thoroughly
  • Quality and balance of research sources – choosing information from reliable and varied sources
  • Presentation of research findings – communicating the findings in a way that is clear and engaging


  • Arrange for students to present their findings to the whole school.
  • Arrange for students’ projects to be presented and/or displayed at the Port Interpretive Centre at Atlin Terminals.
  • Compare the approach to pollution prevention/environmental stewardship at the port in Prince Rupert with that of one of the other major ports on the Pacific Rim.



Shipping and the Environment – Online Research Resources

Australian Marine Environment Protection Association – industry sponsored association providing educational resources about shipping and the environment; corporate sponsors include Shipping Australia Ltd., ANL Container Line Ltd. and Shell Tankers Australia Ltd.

Clean Shipping Coalition – a global international environmental organization that focuses exclusively on shipping issues; promotes policies aimed at the protection and restoration of the marine and atmospheric environment that are consistent with the safe operation of ships, sustainable development, social and economic justice, and human health.

Environmental Defense – non-profit organization that leads a variety of environmental campaigns, including Oceans Alive, an all-encompassing effort to maintain the health of the oceans.

Environmental Ship Index – is a voluntary system designed to improve the environmental performance of sea going vessels. The Environmental Ship Index (ESI) identifies seagoing ships that perform better in reducing air emissions than required by the current emission standards of the International Maritime Organization.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Understanding the three oceans that surround Canada, as well as Canada’s waterways and aquatic resources, is crucial if you want to ensure their sustainability — the challenge that scientists at Fisheries and Oceans Canada face each day.

Green Marine - Green Marine is a joint Canada-U.S. initiative aimed at implementing a marine industry environmental program throughout North America. Founded in 2007 by the major marine industry associations in both Canada and the U.S., Green Marine has rapidly gained a reputation for credibility and transparency, and for challenging participant companies to improve their environmental performance beyond regulatory compliance.

Institute for Coastal Research – at Vancouver Island University is made up of a team of people working to further understanding of the cultural, economic, environmental and social dynamics of the B.C. coast through collaborative research, creative exploration, dialogue, engagement and education. In doing so, we try to help guide human activities to bring the greatest good to coastal communities and ecosystems.

International Maritime Organization – United Nations body responsible for the safety of ships and seafarers and protection of the marine environment.

International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd. – non-profit organization established on behalf of the world’s shipowners to promote an effective response to marine spills of oil, chemicals and other hazardous substances.

Oceana – international organization focused solely on ocean conservation; believes in in the importance of science in identifying problems and solutions.

Transport Canada – Marine (Safety and Environment

Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) – aims to ensure a healthy, safe, and prosperous ocean area by engaging all interested parties in the collaborative development and implementation of an integrated management plan.

United Nations Atlas of the Oceans – The UN Atlas of the Oceans is an Internet portal providing information relevant to the sustainable development of the oceans. It is designed for policy-makers who need to become familiar with ocean issues and for scientists, students and resource managers who need access to databases and approaches to sustainability. The UN Atlas can also provide the ocean industry and stakeholders with pertinent information on ocean matters.

World Ocean Council - brings together the diverse ocean business community to collaborate on stewardship of the seas. This unique coalition is working to improve ocean science in support of safe and sustainable operations, educate the public and stakeholders about the role of responsible companies in addressing environmental concerns, more effectively engage in ocean policy and planning, and develop science-based solutions to cross-cutting environmental challenges that cannot be solved by one company or industry, such as: invasive species, ocean noise, marine mammal impacts, marine debris, the Arctic, and others. The WOC is engaging a wide range of ocean industries, including: shipping, oil and gas, fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, renewable energy (wind, wave, tidal), ports, dredging, cables and pipelines, carbon capture and storage, as well as the maritime legal, financial and insurance communities, and others.

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