Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, last week I spoke about the widespread use of heavy fuel oil in vessels transiting the Arctic and the severe dangers that it poses in comparison to other types of fuel. I also highlighted the fact that, unlike Antarctica, the use of heavy fuel oil is not regulated in its northern counterpart.
Mr. Speaker, in February the International Maritime Organization approved a new two-way route in the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait, after accepting proposals by the United States and Russia. These routes take effect on December 1st. The approval of these routes will likely contribute to a further increase of vessel traffic in the Arctic Ocean. While increased traffic in and of itself is not a bad thing, the NWT is not ready for it, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, our fragile environment is in danger in the case of accidents and spills. Search and rescue is far away, and clean-ups would take too long to prevent the apparent damage. Our communities have decaying docks that can barely support local use, let alone be of any use to larger shipping and cruise boats. We do not have the infrastructure to support increased maritime traffic and respond to emergencies, and yet, we are the ones who will suffer the negative impacts the most.
Mr. Speaker, with the new highway to Tuktoyaktuk, the community is in an ideal position to host a deep-sea port. As traffic in the Northern Sea Route and Northwest Passage grows, governments will have to invest in our lagging infrastructure, and the Government of the Northwest Territories has a key role to play in working together with federal and Indigenous governments.
Later, I will have questions for the Minister of Infrastructure. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.