Tanker Ship Safety in Canada - Roles and Responsibilities
The Government of Canada has become a world leader in its approach to eradicating substandard shipping and continuously strives to enhance tanker ship safety, reduce and eliminate ship source marine pollution in Canadian waters, and protect the environment.
Transport Canada works in close cooperation with other federal departments and agencies involved in marine safety and enforcement activities, including Environment Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans/the Canadian Coast Guard and other national and international partners, to achieve these goals.
The departments and agencies involved in these common goals have distinctive roles to play. They are as follows.
Transport Canada has comprehensive regulations, inspection and enforcement programs in place to enhance the safety of ocean-going vessels and tankers. These programs are supported by Transport Canada's regulations and standards, under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA 2001), combined with international regulations established by the International Maritime Organization.
Transport Canada is also responsible for developing and administering policies, regulations and programs to protect the marine environment, to mitigate the impact on the environment of marine pollution incidents in Canadian waters, and to ensure the safety of the general public.
Additional information on Transport Canada's regulations and programs for tanker ship safety in Canada can be found online.
Among the key programs in place are:
Assistance with mandatory pilotage zones
Mandatory pilotage zones exist in numerous waterways and ports across Canada due to high vessel traffic density or hazards. Here vessel operators must take on board a marine pilot with local knowledge of the waterway. Transport Canada provides a liaising and coordinating role between Canada’s four Pilotage Authorities, the marine industry, other governmental agencies and pilot associations.
Navigation Safety Measures
A combination of regulations, voluntary measures and compliance activities are used to prevent tanker accidents.
National Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Regime
Transport Canada is the lead federal regulatory agency responsible for the regime in which government departments and the private sector join forces to respond to oil spills in Canadian waters.
- Port State Control and Flag State control inspections
- Port State Control involves the inspection of foreign ships in Canadian ports, and has a special regimen for oil tanker safety involving an expanded inspection of overall tanker condition as well as the working conditions of the crew. (Chemical tankers, gas carriers, bulk carriers and ships more than 12 years old also undergo this expanded inspection.)
- Flag State Control involves the inspection of Canadian-flagged vessels, including tankers.
Spill Prevention through National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP)
The presence of the NASP surveillance aircraft acts as a deterrent by discouraging illegal discharges of pollution at sea.
Seafarers Certification and Crewing
Transport Canada develops and updates Regulations, Examinations, and Training Standards for the Certification of Seafarers, including medical fitness; issues Certificates of Competency to seafarers after they have successfully completed a certificate’s prerequisites and examinations; and keeps complete records on all seafarers who are candidates or recipients of these certificates.
Ships of Particular Interest
This program targets certain foreign ships banned from entering Paris Memoranda member ports before they arrive in Canada. The Paris Memoranda is an agreement between several countries sharing common waters that have grouped together under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to ensure that vessels trading in their area are not substandard.
TERMPOL is an extensive yet voluntary review process led by Transport Canada that proponents can request when they are proposing building and operating a marine terminal system for bulk handling of oil, chemicals and liquefied gases.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans/Canadian Coast Guard
The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is the lead federal agency responsible for ensuring an appropriate response to ship source spills in waters under Canadian jurisdiction and maintains a national response capacity to provide coverage where there is not a clearly identified polluter or where the polluter has not taken responsibility." For additional information on Canadian Coast Guard programs please visit them online.
Environment Canada provides marine weather and ice forecast services to the shipping industry. It collects and redistributes weather and climate observations from hundreds of staffed and automated sites across the country including land based stations, coastal marine stations, and from ships and buoys operating in offshore marine areas and on larger lakes. This is important for safe and efficient maritime operations and to help protect Canada's environment.
As well, Environment Canada is responsible for providing a coordinated one-window source of scientific and technical information and advice during response operations to an environmental emergency. This includes information and advice on the behaviour and effects of spilled oil and other chemicals; weather forecasting and air dispersion / water trajectory modeling; the identification of sensitive ecological areas; spill counter-measures, including the use of equipment, spill treating agents and in-situ burning; shoreline mapping and clean-up; and oiled waterfowl triage. The department also implements a number of other non-regulatory initiatives designed to help Canada reduce the frequency and consequences of marine pollution, including awareness campaigns, scientific research and technology development. For additional information on Environment Canada's programs, please visit them online or call 1-800-668-6767.
The International Maritime Organization
The International Maritime Organization is an agency of the United Nations, whose member states join forces to develop regulations and practices for maritime safety and the prevention and control of marine pollution by ships. Transport Canada plays a leadership role in International Maritime Organization initiatives. Additional information on the International Maritime Organization can be found online.
Memoranda of Understanding on Port State Control
Canada works with other countries to ensure that foreign flag vessels entering our waters are in compliance with strict safety and anti-pollution standards established by various major international marine conventions. These joint efforts, known as Port State Control programs, are aimed at detecting substandard shipping and minimizing the threat that it poses to life, property and the marine environment. Canada is a member to two memoranda of understanding on Port State Control. Additional information on Port State Control can be found online.
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