Roles and Responsibilities


Transport Canada

As the lead regulatory agency for the Regime, Transport Canada is responsible for its governance.  Specific activities include:

  • Regime management and oversight;
  • development of regulations and standards;
  • enforcement and implementation of regulations relating to response organizations;
  • enforcement and implementation of regulations relating to oil handling facilities;
  • overseeing an appropriate level of national preparedness;
  • monitoring marine activity levels, conducting risk assessments and making adjustments to the Regime, as required;
  • monitoring and prevention of marine oil spills through the implementation of the National Aerial Surveillance Program;
  • implementation and facilitation of the Regional Advisory Councils;
  • providing leadership for the International Maritime Organization Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation / Hazardous Noxious Substances Technical Group as Canadian head of delegation;
  • providing leadership for the Arctic Council - Emergency, Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group by ensuring representation of Canadian Arctic interests at the international level as Canadian head of delegation;
  • providing post-mortem reporting for oil spill response exercises and incidents, both nationally and internationally, to ensure that the recommendations and/or lessons learned are considered and implemented as appropriate to enhance the Regime.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada / The Canadian Coast Guard

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is responsible for conducting spill management under section 180 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.  Specifically, it:

  • provides a national preparedness capacity and manages the National Response Team;
  • ensures an appropriate response to marine pollution incidents as the Federal Monitoring Officer or On-scene Commander

Preparedness and Response

Transport Canada has a National Preparedness Plan that lays out the overall framework for the national preparedness capacity to combat marine oil pollution incidents in Canada.  Similarly, the CCG has a National Response Plan that identifies how CCG will manage the response to a marine oil spill, including the deployment of personnel and response resources.

With respect to response, Canada's Marine Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Regime is based on the polluter-pay principle.  The polluter is typically called upon to manage the response to a spill when it occurs and appoints an On-scene Commander.  The response organizations provide the response required to manage and clean-up the spill and the CCG monitors the overall response to ensure that it is effective, timely and appropriate to the incident.  The Regional Environmental Emergencies Team advises the On-scene Commander on environmental priorities and on scientific and other regional concerns related to the incident. The CCG would become the OSC during an incident if the polluter is unable to respond, is unwilling to take action or is unknown.

Transboundary (Joint) Planning

Canada also participates in joint activities with the United States in an effort to establish an appropriate measure of preparedness and response.  A formal Canada-US Joint Marine Pollution Contingency Plan (PDF format, 54.3 KB) has been established.