International and Canadian regulations
The very nature of shipping, which is central to global trade, requires regulation at the international level. International maritime regulations are developed within specialized United Nations agencies, such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The International Maritime Organization is:
- a specialized UN agency governing shipping
- 33 international conventions to date
- signatory countries committing to applying the conventions in their waters.
The main marine safety international conventions are:
- SOLAS (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974): Concerns the safety of merchant ships. Specifies minimum standards for the construction, equipment and operation of ships.
- International Convention on Load Lines, 1966: Limits the draught to which a ship may be loaded, taking into account the potential hazards present in different zones and different seasons for the crew’s safety.
- Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS), 1972: States the rules for navigating and preventing collisions at sea (vessel conduct, signals, etc.
- International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978: Establishes basic requirements for training and certifying seafarers.
- International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) (1973, 1978): Covers prevention of pollution of the maritime environment by ships.
Shipping is the most regulated mode of transportation, and Canadian regulations are exhaustive and efficient. International Maritime Organization member states, such as Canada, incorporate the conventions into their national legislation. Here, this responsibility is shared by Transport Canada, Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Canadian legislation covers:
- Crew training and required qualifications
- Ship construction and certification
- Ship inspection
- Operations on land and at sea
- Hazardous materials transportation
- Security and safety
- Insurance and compensation funds
- Environmental protection
The main Canadian laws governing marine transport are:
- Canada Shipping Act
This legislation governs the technical components of marine transport, such as vessel operation, circulation and status, crews, safety and environmental aspects.
- Marine Transportation Security Act
This Act governs safety and security relating to ships, crews, cargo handling, vessel supply, vessel access, ports and terminals.
- Navigable Waters Protection Act
This statute ensures that no obstacle interferes with ship traffic.
- Pilotage Act
This Act defines the navigation sectors in which pilotage services are compulsory and the pilotage authorities that have jurisdiction there.
- Canada Marine Act
This legislation governs port authorities, port operation and management of navigable waterway-related infrastructures, such as the St. Lawrence Seaway.