The Canadian Coast Guard’s Western Region is made up of more than 27,000 km of pristine coastline – the Environmental Response Program is a critical team in the Region on which Matthew resides. The program is responsible for ensuring an appropriate response to marine pollution incidents and protection of the coastal environment.

This team’s primary focus is on preparedness. This includes developing plans and procedures with coastal communities and stakeholders before incidents happen, and the training and exercising of CCG Environmental Response teams to ensure they are knowledgeable and ready to respond. Matthew notes the biggest priority in his job, along with environmental preservation, is the protection of cultural resources, marine wildlife and sensitive areas. That is why CCG Environmental Response teams are located throughout coastal BC — to ensure their preservation. In doing this work, Matthew’s teams collaborate with coastal nations; as learning from other Nations and understanding the significance of the natural world to their livelihood is paramount to this work.

Matthew understands the importance of preserving and protecting the environment that he loves; “I want to be able to make a difference for the environment, for Canadians, and for every person and living being that has a connection to the marine environment in coastal British Columbia,” he says. Recently, he took part in a scenario that drew on his expertise: Canada’s largest oil spill exercise. As part of the drill, the Canadian Coast Guard worked alongside response partners in a simulated oil spill resulting from a stricken oil tanker in coastal waters. Over 150 responders were present over two and a half days, and according to Matthew, it was particularly impressive having so many passionate responders working together to practice and perfect large scale response efforts – all with an aim to minimize and repair impacts caused by oil pollution. In accordance with maritime legislation in Canada, there is a “polluter pays” principle for all costs, including the response costs of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Matthew is particularly proud of the strength of laws in Canada that hold polluter’s accountable.

Matthew Walker is extremely passionate about the environment, both personally and professionally. He feels am immense self of pride to be able to help Canada to preserve its natural environment and to protect it for future generations. The value of people like Matthew, others like him, and the Environmental Response program cannot be overstated.