Canadian law, like that of most maritime nations, requires that vessels at sea respond to distress situations to the extent they can, without undue risk to their vessel or crew. However, many public minded Canadians in a position to do so, voluntarily go out of their way to assist fellow mariners in distress. It is this latter fact that led to the formation of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CCGA). In the late 1970's, it became evident that if some of these volunteer efforts could be coordinated to function as a part of Canada's search and rescue system, more could be achieved by the same level of volunteer effort. As a result, the Canadian Coast Guard instigated the formation of the CCGA to provide a framework for this coordination.

  • The CCGA (NL) is a non-profit volunteer organization used to augment the search and rescue resources in the Newfoundland Labrador Region. The CCGA works in conjunction with the Canadian Coast Guard. The organization's objective is the same as the national search and rescue objective:

"The prevention of loss of life and/or injury at sea, including, where possible and directly related thereto, reasonable efforts to minimize damage to or loss of property."

Its members and their vessels respond to search and rescue incidents in the waters around Newfoundland Labrador and occasionally participate in SAR prevention activities around the province. The CCGA (NL) has a proud history. It was first incorporated on August 30, 1978. In its initial year of operation, 164 members and 65 vessels volunteered their services. They responded to 20 SAR incidents. Since incorporation the CCGA has grown and prospered in the Newfoundland Labrador Region. They now represent a significant resource for Search and Rescue. Ninety-two percent of the membership is involved in the fishery.

Organization Structure

All five regional Presidents form the CCGA National Council. This National Council deals directly with Ottawa on matters common to all Regions. The Auxiliary is funded by a contribution agreement negotiated with the Minister of Fisheries & Oceans by the CCGA National Council. The contribution agreement must be signed by all five Presidents to be valid and is usually valid for five years. CCGA (NL) Inc. is controlled by its Board of Directors and jointly administered by its Executive, Employees and the CCGA Regional Coordinator. The current contribution agreement details the responsibilities of the CCGA and the Coast Guard (representing the Minister of Fisheries & Oceans) in this joint contract.

CCGA Operation

Operationally, the CCGA (NL) is divided into sixty three districts. This is done to aid the SAR controller in easily pinpointing the location of the resources he or she has at their disposal to be tasked on a SAR incident. An annual renewal of the membership is used to ensure accurate and updated information is available to the Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC). Plus all members are encouraged to call in information affecting their vessels to the CG office. This means updated information is passed quickly and efficiently to the MRSC on a daily basis. In addition to the normal search and rescue incidents there have been several major ones such as:

  • Marie Teixeria Vilarinho, September, 1980
  • Norma & Gladys, October 1984
  • Taskall, October 1984 and
  • Zidani, November 1986.

Hence, members of the CCGA (NL) have received many awards consisting of, but not limited to:

  • awards from the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron
  • the Commissioner's Commendation
  • Medals of Bravery, and

Membership Responsibilities

As previously stated, the contribution agreement negotiated with the Minister of Fisheries & Oceans defines the obligations of each party in the Contract. The main responsibilities of each member of the CCGA are:

  1. Make available suitable fully seaworthy and crewed vessels, meeting all safety, equipment and capability standards established by the CCGA and the CCG. Inspections prior to enrolment will be done and subsequent inspections to ensure compliance will be conducted
  2. In lieu of providing a vessel, must contribute a skilled voluntary effort to support the CCGA objective.
  3. Members must undertake training identified by the CCG and the CCGA as necessary for the safe and effective conduct of SAR duties.
  4. Members must follow CCGA bylaws and guidelines, conduct the "authorized activities" in a prudent and safe manner, and must not embarrass the CCG or CCGA organization.

A member must agree to these responsibilities prior to being accepted as a CCGA member. The main responsibilities of the Coast Guard through the CCGA association are:

  1. Reimburse members for out of pocket expenses incurred while conducting activities authorized by the CG.
  2. Provide insurance protection covering members and their vessels while engaged in authorized activities.
  3. Ensure members are kept informed of CCG guidelines and other information needed by members to properly undertake authorized activities.
  4. Ensure CCG is kept informed of current membership capabilities, availability and contact information.
  5. Provide assistance to members to improve needed skills and capabilities.


The CCGA (NL) Inc. is a volunteer organization that augments the search and rescue resources in Newfoundland Labrador. Actually, the CCGA members feel they are a part of Coast Guard and are proud of it. They take very seriously their commitment to the SAR system. The CCGA is a very valuable resource in that it operates cheaply and efficiently.

BUT it must never be forgotten that it is a resource composed completely by volunteers. Great pains are taken to ensure personal contact with the members, through all correspondence, training sessions, phone calls, meetings, equipment issuances and office visits. Without this personal contact I do not feel that the CCGA would exist as it does today.