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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, in 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 has improved over the past decade. In 2015, 245 marine accidents were reported to the TSB, down from 301 the previous year, and down from the 2010–2014 average of 300. Over the past 10 years, 83% of marine accidents were shipping accidents, while the remainder were 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.