ARCHIVED - Marine Safety in Canada

Information Archived on the Web

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.


As a result of Canada’s strong marine safety regime, tankers have been moving safely along Canada’s west coast for decades.

The federal government has in place strict rules and regulations governing the development and shipment of products like oil and gas to safeguard public health and the environment.  For example:

  • Canada requires ships to provide notification 24 hours prior to entering its waters;
  • All vessels of 500 gross tons or more must report information to the Canadian Coast Guard’s Marine Communications and Traffic Services;
  • The Government of Canada inspects every foreign tanker on its first visit to a Canadian port and, for vessels making multiple visits to Canadian ports, at least once a year thereafter;
  • All commercial vessels of 350 gross tons and over are required to bring on board a local pilot before entering a port;
  • Canada’s Mandatory Pilotage Zones require that a highly trained mariner with extensive knowledge of local waterways and ports board a vessel and guide it safely to its destination;
  • The National Aerial Surveillance Program also conducts overflights to make sure shipping companies comply with Canada’s strict laws; and,
  • Large crude oil tankers must now be double hulled to operate in Canadian waters, and all smaller vessels operating in Canadian waterways must be double-hulled by the end of 2014.

In addition to these, loaded tankers must comply with additional measures. Tankers in Port Metro Vancouver can sail only during the daylight hours and only on calm waters.  They must travel only through a clear channel meaning other vessels must stop and wait.

Canada has a well-organized Marine Oil Spill Preparedness and Response regime in place. To be prepared for any eventuality, the Government of Canada inspects the pollution response capability of oil handling facilities, which are required to have oil pollution prevention plans and oil pollution emergency plans.

On the west coast, Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, certified by the Government of Canada, is responsible for covering all Canadian waters off of British Columbia, south of 60 degrees north latitude.

The Canadian Coast Guard also maintains response equipment in more than 80 sites across the country and has over 75 trained and experienced Environmental Response personnel available to monitor, provide advice and take action in addressing pollution incidents and protect the marine environment.

To further enhance safety for shipping on both our east and west coasts, Economic Action Plan 2012 provides $35.7 million over two years to further strengthen Canada’s tanker safety regime, including:

  • new regulations to strengthen the inspection requirements for tankers;
  • measures to strengthen tanker safety and the nation’s oil spill preparedness and response regime;
  • improved aids to navigation, such as updated charts for shipping routes; and
  • research to improve our scientific knowledge and understanding of marine pollution risks.

Canada’s vast resource wealth can be developed and transported to market responsibly, creating jobs and economic growth for all Canadians, by putting safety first. The Government of Canada is committed to further strengthening marine safety. Development of Canada’s vast natural resources will not proceed unless it can be done safely and responsibly.

Media may contact: 

Carly Wolff
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Natural Resources Canada

Media Relations
Natural Resources Canada

The general public may contact:
Mon.–Fri., 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. EDT
Telephone: 613-995-0947
TTY: 613-996-4397
(teletype for the hearing-impaired)