Transport Canada regulations and standards, under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA 2001) and the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act, combined with international conventions and standards established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), provide the framework for the department's comprehensive marine safety, pollution prevention, enforcement, and oil spill preparedness and response programs.
The international conventions and standards that are developed by the IMO, in conjunction with its members such as Canada, aim to promote cooperation in reducing pollution and the risk of major incidents worldwide. These conventions and standards address such issues as ship construction, training and qualification of crew and safety of navigation.
The following international agreements allow Transport Canada to fulfill its roles in the prevention and preparedness of marine oil pollution incidents:
- International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) seeks to eliminate intentional pollution of the marine environment resulting from ship operations and to minimize accidental discharges of pollutants. Transport Canada administers and enforces the convention through the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and its regulations.
- International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation is a framework that allows Canada to provide assistance to major incidents in other member states when requested and to see the assistance of our international colleagues if required.
Experience has demonstrated that regulating potential polluters through the CSA 2001 regulation enhances preparedness levels. Under the Act, response organizations are certified by Transport Canada to meet the regulatory requirements for their response plans, which include specifications for equipment, personnel, and training and exercise programs. Oil handling facilities are required to have similar on-site preparedness and response plans and, in the case of ships, each ship must have a Ship Oil Pollution Emergency Plan.
Furthermore, pursuant to the CSA 2001, mandatory oil spill response exercises are conducted with oil handling facilities, response organizations and governments in order to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of procedures, equipment and resources identified in contingency plans. These exercises are realistic simulations of various types of spill incidents. Canada also participates in ongoing joint exercises with the United States.