July 9, 2007

Updated, revised Canada Shipping Act now in force

With the coming into effect of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA 2001) on July 1, 2007, Canada now has up-to-date, streamlined legislation aimed at promoting the sustainable growth of the shipping industry without compromising safety.

CSA 2001 replaces the Canada Shipping Act (which dates back more than 100 years) as the principal legislation governing safety in marine transportation and recreational boating, as well as protection of the marine environment. It applies to Canadian vessels operating in all waters and to foreign vessels operating in Canadian waters, ranging from canoes and kayaks to cruise ships and tankers.

Although the new Act was passed in 2001, it has only now come into force, as time was needed to review existing regulations, develop new regulations, and consult with a wide range of marine stakeholders. The result is an updated and streamlined version of the original CSA, making it clearer and easier to understand.

The CSA 2001:

*promotes safety and provides better protection for the marine environment, through new and enhanced regulations;

*shifts from an inspection-based regime to a compliance-based regime, where vessel operators are encouraged to take a more active approach to safety;

*introduces a new method of enforcement with the introduction of administrative monetary penalties;

*replaces the Board of Steamship Inspection with the new Marine Technical Review Board; and

*establishes a new set of voyage classifications for the safer operation of vessels.

Some regulations come into effect immediately, and consultations continue as Transport Canada develops further regulations that support the Act. Members of the marine community are being encouraged to participate in education and awareness initiatives, and help contribute to the development of a safety culture within the industry.

Reform of the original Canada Shipping Act began in 1997 and evolved on two tracks. Track One reforms resulted in Bill C-15, which revised provisions dealing with ship ownership, registration, and mortgages. It also added a preamble to make the Act's objectives easy to understand and its content easier to interpret. Bill C-15 received Royal Assent in June 2001.

Track Two reforms led to Bill C-14, which received Royal Assent on November 1, 2001 as the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. Now in force, its provisions better protect and support crews, enhance passenger and vessel safety, and better protect the marine environment. The Act itself has been simplified by: including definitions only when the ordinary dictionary meaning has been narrowed or expanded; removing technical details from the Act to simplify the legislative framework and placing them in regulations, standards or other documents; using clearer, more easily understandable language; and moving all liability provisions to the Marine Liability Act.

The CSA 2001 authorizes the development of supporting regulations that clarify and improve existing vessel safety requirements, environmental protection, and personnel certification and training. Among these are a number of new regulations. Administrative Monetary Penalties regulations, for example, are being introduced to provide an alternative to judicial methods of enforcement. While new to the marine sector, they have been used in the aviation sector for some time.

The Marine Personnel regulations, which ensure that ship owners employ sufficient, adequately trained crew for the safe operation of vessels, have been enhanced by the addition of Maritime Labour standards, which establish the labour working conditions on vessels.

Under the Environmental Response regulations, which deal with the prevention of and response to marine spills from vessels and oil handling facilities, response organizations will need to be certified to enter into agreements with vessels and oil handling facilities. These facilities will be required to have prevention and response plans in place.

The Prevention of Pollution from Ships and for Dangerous Chemicals regulations are designed to eliminate the deliberate, negligent, or accidental discharge of ship-source pollutants into the marine environment. They also promote the safe operation of chemical tankers.

More information is available on Transport Canada's marine safety operations and environmental programs Web site, www.tc.gc.ca/marinesafety/oep.

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