Marine safety, a shared responsability

Enforcement of laws and regulations is a shared responsibility between several levels of government and other key players to ensure the safety of marine transportation in Canadian waters.

Transport Canada

Transport Canada, under the Canada Shipping Act (2001), has the mandate to oversee commercial navigation activities in Canadian waters to ensure they are secure and safe for the environment. More specifically, Transport Canada is responsible for the development and management of regulations, guidelines, various publications, programs and initiatives that focus on the prevention of pollution in maritime operations.

Broad areas of focus include the following:

  • Setting standards for vessel crew, design, equipment and use
  • Monitoring and compliance of Canadian and foreign vessels
  • Inspection of dangerous goods containers
  • Cargo handling and ship-port interface
  • Navigation and radio communications
  • Environmental protection and response systems
  • Ship operations and inspection
  • Vessel registration

Canadian Coast Guard

The Canadian Coast Guard is a Special Operating Agency of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). It plays a key role in ensuring that Canada’s oceans and waterways are safe and accessible by providing the following services:

  • Aids to navigation
  • Marine communications and traffic management services
  • Icebreaking and ice-management services
  • Channel maintenance
  • Marine search and rescue
  • Marine pollution response; and
  • Support of other government departments, boards and agencies by providing ships, aircraft and other services.

Pilotage authorities

Maritime pilots play a key role in marine safety by maneuvering ships through dangerous waters or in case the captain is not familiar with the traffic zone. In addition to possess detailed knowledge of the particular waterway, pilots are able to communicate efficiently with the shore, in the local language.

All ships of a certain size navigating the St. Lawrence must be under the control of a licensed maritime pilot between Les Escoumins and Montréal, or on the Saguenay River.

The Laurentian Pilotage Authority (LPA), a Montreal-based federal Crown corporation, is responsible for administering and providing marine pilotage and related services according to the Pilotage Act.

APL then calls on both the Corporation of Lower St. Lawrence Pilots and the Corporation of Mid-St. Lawrence River Pilots to hire pilots, respectively for voyages between Les Escoumins and Quebec, and on the Saguenay River, and for those between Quebec and Montreal. Maritime pilots are highly trained (licensed navigation officers) and experienced (minimum 10 years of navigation experience) mariners that have detailed knowledge of a specific portion of the St. Lawrence waterway.