Liability and compensation for marine incidents

Canada’s coasts and waterways have never been safer, but even with safety measures in place, marine incidents like ship-source pollution can happen. That’s why the Government of Canada has liability and compensation regimes in place to ensure that if a marine incident happens in Canadian waters, both Canadians and the marine shipping industry are protected.

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Types of incidents that could lead to compensation

The Marine Liability Act and the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act include rules that ensure that if a marine incident happens in Canadian waters, people affected can be compensated for eligible losses. Depending on the incident, vessel owners can be held liable (responsible) for damage to property, the environment and injuries to people.

There are many different types of incidents that could lead to compensation:

  • Involving oil pollution
    Polluters are financially responsible for oil pollution damage caused by any oil from any type of vessel, even if the pollution is accidental. Liability and compensation for oil pollution from ships in Canada is based on international conventions, which make sure the polluter pays.
  • Involving passengers
    In Canada, we’ve introduced regulations to help compensate passengers involved in marine incidents
  • Wrecks
    In Canadian waters, vessel owners are liable (responsible) for the costs of removing wrecks that affect safe navigation or the environment.

Exporters and receivers: Submit an annual information return report

When it comes to marine oil spills or incidents that involve chemicals or other dangerous goods, shipowners and compensation funds cover the costs of all eligible losses and damages. The compensation funds are financed by levies placed on cargo owners. To make sure that the compensation funds have enough money to cover all eligible losses and damages, the Marine Liability Act requires receivers and exporters to report the type of product and amount of product they receive in, or export from, Canada by sea.

Learn about annual information return reports and the HNS and Oil Reporting System

Limitation of liability for maritime claims

Shipowners have the right to limit their liability (financial responsibility) if their vessel is involved in a marine incident. Limiting liability supports maritime trade and our economy by making costs more predictable, including the cost of insurance.

Learn about limitation of liability for maritime claims

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