Shipping Operations

In accordance with Marine Safety’s mission of enhancing safety at sea, and protecting life, health, property, and the marine environment; the Marine Safety directorate works towards safe and sustainable shipping. Programs under the Operations and Environmental Programs branch are responsible for the compliance and monitoring of Canadian and foreign ships in Canadian waters and ports. These programs are divided into two regimes, flag state (domestic) and port state (international).

Every ship of 100 tons gross tonnage or over navigating in any Canadian waters in which ice may be encountered, is required to carry and make proper navigational use of the Canadian Coast Guard publication, Ice Navigation in Canadian Waters (4,530 KB )


IMO Guidelines for Ships Operating in Polar Regions

IMO (131.7 KB )


Crewing Requirements

Ice Navigators

Navigational Services

Ballast Water Management in the Arctic

Oil Transfers


There are additional crewing requirements under the Arctic Shipping Pollution Prevention Regulations, which includes having an Ice Navigator on board. It is the responsibility of vessel owners and operators to ensure that these requirements are met. While operating in the Canadian Arctic, there are various navigational services available to the operators: icebreaker assistance, Search and Rescue programs, sailing directions, and ice information products (such as the daily Ice Charts from the Canadian Ice Services).

It is the responsibility of ship operators to ensure that ballast water is managed properly so that alien species are not introduced. The Environmental Protection division is responsible for the Canadian Ballast Water Program. It is also the responsibility of ship operators to comply with all applicable regulations when doing oil transfers to reduce the chances of an oil spill.

When Ships Can Navigate in the Arctic

The Class or Type of a vessel and the ice conditions determine when a vessel can enter the different areas and ice regimes of the Canadian Arctic.

Polar Classes

Zone/Date System (Z/DS)

Arctic Ice Regime Shipping System (AIRSS)

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