In the latest attempt to assert its Arctic sovereignty, Canada is set to begin monitoring all water-based traffic in the Northwest Passage using underwater listening devices, sources have told CBC News. Canada's ability to monitor the Northwest Passage is currently quite limited, something experts say will increasingly become a problem as other countries vie for a piece of the Arctic. As early as next summer, the federal government plans to lay and test fibre optic cables connected to underwater listening devices in the passage that allow the military to keep a close eye on who might be trying to access the waters unannounced. The technology will detect not only ships, but also submarines.
The cost of the venture has not been revealed. A similar plan in the 1990s fell apart because of a $100-million price tag. Canada may have to pay a hefty price to assert its sovereignty over the Arctic, an area where other countries have signalled intentions to claim parts as their own. With the Arctic considered a potential treasure trove of resources, including oil, gas and even diamonds, Canada's newest project may determine how the country protects its claim to the area.
Canadian capabilities are currently extremely limited, especially when it comes to monitoring water traffic such as submarines. Experts say that for decades, U.S. submarines have been sneaking around Arctic waters inside what Canada considers its territory. Russian, French and British submarines are believed to have gone in the waters as well.