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Peter Burgess

Senior Marine Officer

St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation
Cornwall, Canada
32 years in the industry

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If the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation had a sheriff, Peter Burgess would be it.  The 51-year-old knows about every ship that enters the Seaway at the St. Lambert Lock near Montreal and whether it has passed its safety, security and environmental inspections.  As the Seaway’s senior marine officer, Burgess and his colleagues ensure that the proper security is in place to control access to the locks and that Seaway staff regularly perform drills and exercises to be prepared for any emergency that might arise.

“I like the variety of my job. I’m dealing with marine safety, security, environmental issues. That’s what keeps it interesting and challenging,” he says.

Burgess joined the marine industry at age 19 — looking for adventure and the opportunity to travel — and found it as a deck officer on the bulk carriers sailing on the Great Lakes, the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. A decade later, he came permanently ashore to work as a marine surveyor before joining the Seaway in 1997.  “It was a lifestyle choice. I had done my seagoing commitment and I wanted to land my feet somewhere, mostly for family commitments,” says Burgess, who lives in Cornwall, Ontario with his wife and two step-children.

These days, one of his most important responsibilities is managing the Seaway’s ballast water inspection program designed to keep aquatic invasive species from entering the Great Lakes-Seaway System. Burgess and a team of bi-national inspectors comprised of the U.S. Coast Guard, Transport Canada and the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, ensure compliance on every ocean-going ship.

“We know this is an important issue for the communities that live around the Seaway and the Great Lakes,” Burgess says. “Every ship on every transit is inspected and every tank that is capable of carrying ballast water is screened and sampled for compliance with exchange and flushing requirements. We believe this process is working. Since 2006, when Transport Canada’s rules came into play, there have been no new reported discoveries of invasive species establishing themselves due to ballast water discharges.”