The Shipping Federation of Canada recently submitted comments to Transport Canada on potential legislative amendments covering a wide range of subjects, including strengthening Canada’s legislative authority to regulate the impacts of navigation on marine mammals and some issues relating to oil spill response regime.

In our brief, we highlighted that legislation/regulations are not the Be all end all and that management tools such as voluntary measures implemented on an industry-wide basis often provide a more efficient approach for addressing some issues,  such as underwater noise from ships, where there are still important knowledge gaps.

Transport Canada was also seeking comments on the possibility of increasing the maximum amount for administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) in the event of safety and environmental infractions (which is currently $25 000). On this matter, we stressed the fact that, by their very nature, AMPs are small claim mechanisms and should not be raised at a level that would be in the realm of court prosecution (without having all the legal protections that come with the courts).

We also suggested the creation of a Maritime Transportation Fund – under which fines and court orders for safety and environmental infractions would be paid to this dedicated fund to support sustainable maritime transportation projects (instead disappearing into the coffer of the Receiver General).

Transport Canada is also considering some amendments relating to the oil spill response regime. On the latter, we supported the introduction of legislative authority to use alternative response measures (such as spill-treating agents) in the event of an oil spills from ships.  The legislative authority to use spill-treating agents already exists in the event of an oil spill from offshore drilling platforms in Canadian waters and such substances are also used in several other countries. Our objective is to ensure that Canadian authorities have access to a broad range of response tools – on a case by case – so that spill response operations are the most efficient possible (and therefore limit shipowners’ financial exposure).

A copy of our submission to Transport Canada can be found at this LINK.