Federal Government Proposes Changes to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the Marine Liability Act. Implications for autonomous vessel research, oil pollution events and access to compensation under the Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund.
On October 29, 2018, the Federal Government introduced the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 which, among other things, makes amendments to Canada’s two foremost pieces of shipping legislation: the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the Marine Liability Act. If passed the amendments will:
- Allow Transport Canada to exempt persons or vessels from any provisions of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 or any of its regulations “if the exemption would allow the undertaking of research and development…and may enhance marine safety or environmental protection”. This amendment is significant in that it allows Transport Canada to make exemptions for autonomous or remote controlled vehicles which will inevitably not comply with current regulations premised on the assumption vessels are manned – i.e. rules re safe manning and crew accommodations obviously won’t apply. Exemptions will last for up to 3 years and must be made public.
- Provide Transport Canada with new authority to issue interim orders deal with a "direct or indirect risk to marine safety or to the marine environment”.
- Provide Transport Canada with new regulation making authority.
- Provide the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans with broader powers to intervene during oil pollution incidents. The definition of "oil pollution incidents" will also be expanded.
- Permit the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans “enter private property – other than a dwelling-house – and pass through it, including with vehicles and equipment” to deal with oil pollution incidents.
- Modify the Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund. In particular, a new expedited claim process will be created for claims for loss or damage (other than economic loss) under $35,000. Claimants will not be required to provide supporting documentation in order to receive payment