Ship Source Pollution: The Due Diligence Defence

Author: Peter Swanson


There are a number of pieces of legislation, both federal and provincial, dealing with the discharge of pollutants into the environment. Generally speaking federal legislation regulates the discharge of pollutants from ships. The two main pieces of federal legislation for ship source pollution are the Canada Shipping Act 2001, which came into force in July 2007, and the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 as amended.

Back in July of last year David Jones wrote in this column about the new Pollution Prevention Regulations that came into force on May 16, 2007. He noted that the new Regulations would ensure that Canada’s law are consistent with our international obligations under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution. He noted the Regulations incorporated new provisions, in addition to oil, to accede to Annex IV, V and VI of the Convention dealing with sewage, garbage and air respectively. The Regulations also included provisions dealing with anti-fouling systems addressed by the Anti-Fouling Systems Convention.

In this column I will review the new Regulations prohibiting the discharge of oil from a ship and discuss the available defences following a discharge. In the process it is useful to look at the previous regulations and the defences available under that former regime.

About Peter Swanson

Peter is a founding partner of the firm with over 30 years of professional legal experience. He practices primarily in the fields of maritime and health law. Peter’s maritime case work involves vessel arrest and security, carriage of goods by sea, enforcement of maritime liens, civil and regulatory liability for ship source pollution, collision, port state intervention, immigration, bodily injury,… view full profile »