Annex A - Small Vessel Safety & Licensing

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A. Purpose

The purpose of this annex is to outline the specific responsibilities of Transport Canada and Fisheries & Oceans regarding small vessel safety.

B. Definition

Recreational Craft Consistent with the definition of Pleasure Yacht as defined by the Canada Shipping Act, but further defined as a boat, vessel or any other description of water craft that is used exclusively for pleasure and does not carry passengers or goods for hire, reward, remuneration or any object of profit. This includes a vessel hired from a commercial entity and used strictly for recreational purposes.

C. Offices of Primary Interest

For the purpose of this annex, inquiries may be addressed to, and issues of concern may be raised with either of these offices:

  • Transport Canada: Director General, Marine Safety
  • Fisheries & Oceans: Director General, Rescue & Environmental Response

D. Regulations

  1. It is the underlying intent of this Annex that regulatory responsibility related to commercial shipping matters is to remain with Transport Canada while Fisheries & Oceans is responsible for regulatory matters pertaining specifically to pleasure craft and boating activities.
  2. The following regulations are those for which Fisheries & Oceans have responsibility in so far as they apply to pleasure craft.
  • the Boating Restriction Regulations 
  • the Small Vessel Regulations
  • the Pleasure Craft Sewage Pollution Prevention Regulations

E. Responsibilities & Authorities

  1. In addition to the responsibility for safety non-regulatory programs, the responsibility for the administration of safety programs for recreational vessels (pleasure craft) is with the Office of Boating Safety, Fisheries & Oceans. The responsibility for commercial vessels is retained in Transport Canada.
  2. The Departments recognise that the administration of small vessel programs incorporates both pleasure craft and small commercial vessels and that the major areas of interest include:
  1. the licensing / registration of vessels
  2. the equipment carriage and navigating appliances requirements
  3. the approval of equipment
  4. the operation and restriction of operation under the Boating Restriction Regulations
  5. the construction of small vessels
  6. the enforcement of the above regulations
  7. the potential for the licensing of operators or the introductionof operator proficiency requirements

F. General

  1. The Departments agree that the subject areas above are in most cases common or shared by both recreational and commercial vessels. It is therefore agreed that in the short term, it will not be possible to segregate the statutory or regulatory provisions of the relevant legislation. It will be necessary to "share" responsibility for the administration of the regulations as the authority for Small Vessel Regulations currently resides with Transport Canada, and ministerial delegation for the remaining regulations also resides with Transport Canada.
  2. The Departments agree that co-operation between the Director General, Marine Safety and the Director General, Rescue and Environmental Response in the drafting and consultation is an essential part in the delivery of their respective programs. The Departments also recognize that, although responsibility for the administration of programs respecting recreational vessels will be that of Fisheries & Oceans, there will in the short term, until separate regulations are promulgated, continue to be references to Transport Canada in areas such as the approval of personal flotation devices.
  3. The Departments further agree to minimize administrative burden and to avoid inconvenience to clients. Similarly the Departments recognize that Transport Canada may continue to make regulatory reference to programs that are transferred to Fisheries & Oceans such as the compliance plate program.
  4. The Departments agree that ultimately, to the extent possible, there should be two sets of regulatory regimes, one for recreational craft and one for commercial craft. In the longer term, the Departments agree to develop the necessary legislative frameworks whereby the two regimes can be supported separately by each Department.
  5. The Departments agree that the statutory basis for small vessel regulation is for the most part shared within common sections of the Canada Shipping Act such as sections 108, 562(3) and 562(4), and that the regulations are made under the authority of the Governor in Council. Therefore, it is possible to use, in the short term the existing statutory authorities as applied to recreational programmes (Fisheries & Oceans) and for commercial programmes (Transport Canada). During the transition period, until the development of separate regulations respecting pleasure craft and commercial vessels, it is agreed that, if an issue arises which requires a decision of the Board of Steamship Inspection concerning exemptions or equivalencies pertaining to pleasure craft, a representative of Rescue and Environmental Response may make appropriate application to the Board, and may be called upon by the Board to act as an advisor concerning that issue.
  6. The Departments recognize that the current discussions taking place between the Provinces and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, under the auspices of the Federal Provincial Partnerships Project, may result in a new framework, particularly for the delivery of services to the recreational boating community. Fisheries & Oceans may develop recreational vessel programmes in conjunction with other Partners.
  7. It is the responsibility of Transport Canada and Fisheries & Oceans to ensure the harmonisation of vessel licensing/registration, and operator proficiency/certification requirements. The objective is to ensure that a balance exists in the requirements imposed on recreational and on commercial vessels of comparable size. It is also to ensure that duplication of requirements is not imposed on the public.

G. Specific Provisions

  1. The Departments agree that the general responsibility for recreational vessels is with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in respect of:
    1. Small Vessel Regulations
    2. Licensing of pleasure craft, except that owners of pleasure craft will continue to be permitted to voluntarily register their pleasure craft under Part I of the Canada Shipping Act
    3. Equipment carriage requirements for pleasure craft
    4. The approval of equipment that is intended solely for use on pleasure craft (Personal Flotation Devices )
    5. Construction standards and compliance plates for pleasure craft
    6. Enforcement (Offences & Penalties)
    7. Boating Restriction Regulations as applied to pleasure craft including associated administrative powers such as ministerial exemptions, except for the provisions related to commercial river rafting, which will be administered by Transport Canada
    8. The Pleasure Craft Sewage Pollution Prevention Regulations
    9. The licensing of operators of pleasure craft, or the introduction of operator proficiency requirements for pleasure craft.
  2. The Departments agree that where the regulations make reference to approvals by the Department of Transport or under the authority of an officer of the Department of Transport (such as a Steamship Inspector) and where the administration of the approval program is herein determined to reside within Fisheries & Oceans (such as in the approval of personal flotation devices or equipment intended solely for use on pleasure craft), the Departments agree that approvals or amendments to standards will be administered and processed by Fisheries & Oceans under the appropriate approval authority of Transport Canada, and that Transport Canada will facilitate any such approvals and amendments until the necessary regulatory amendments have been promulgated regarding pleasure craft and their equipment.
  3. During the period of transition, until separate regulations are promulgated for recreational craft and for small commercial craft, it is recognized that some of the authorities currently residing with Transport Canada are required in order to administer recreational vessel regulations. It is therefore agreed that Transport Canada will appoint suitably qualified officers of the Office of Boating Safety as a Steamship Inspector in order to facilitate the approvals of equipment specifically intended for use on pleasure craft (such as personal floatation devices), compliance plates, and construction standards. The appointed individual will be directly responsible to the Chairman of the Board of Steamship Inspection for the performance of these duties.
  4. Transport Canada agrees that employees of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans who, by virtue of their former responsibilities within Transport Canada hold certificates as steamship inspectors, will continue to hold their certificates until such time as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans promulgates regulations for the construction and operation of recreational vessels.
  5. Transport Canada agrees to recommend to the Minister of Transport that the delegation of power for permits and authorizations made under the provisions of the Boating Restriction Regulations which remain the responsibility of Transport Canada be transferred to the Director General, Rescue and Environmental Response, Canadian Coast Guard.
  6. The Departments recognize that regulations which are intended to apply to all vessels and which are not specifically identified in this Annex (such as the Collision Regulations) will continue to apply to pleasure craft and will remain the responsibility of Transport Canada.
  7. The Departments agree that the mandatory registration of pleasure craft over 20 tons will remain in effect, and that pleasure craft of less than 20 tons may continue to be voluntarily registered under regulations administered by Transport Canada.
  8. The Departments agree that the responsibility and authority for small vessel licensing, except for small commercial vessels, is with Fisheries & Oceans while the responsibility and authority for Ship Registration is with Transport Canada.
  9. The Departments agree that the certification of personnel for all vessels requiring such pursuant to the Ship's Deck Watch Regulations (intended to be replaced by the Crewing Regulations and Certification Regulations) remains the responsibility of Transport Canada.
  10. The Departments agree that the inspection of boilers and pressure vessels of pleasure craft under the Canada Shipping Act will remain the responsibility of Transport Canada
  11. The Departments agree that the general responsibility for all small commercial vessels, including passenger vessels, cargo vessels and all other types of commercial vessels is with Transport Canada
  12. The Departments agree that where regulatory requirements normally associated with larger vessels (such as hull construction, marine machinery, load lines rules regulations and standards) are made applicable to pleasure craft, these regulations will continue to be administered by Transport Canada for pleasure craft to which these requirements apply.

H. Procedures and Consultation

  1. The Departments agree to conduct joint consultation through the Canadian Marine Advisory Council on matters that may effect both recreational and commercial vessels.
  2. The Departments agree to establish an interdepartmental Small Vessel Committee from within the Office of Boating Safety and the Marine Regulatory Branch in order to proceed as rapidly as possible with the separation of legislative regimes. Representatives will be designated by the Directors General, Marine Safety and Rescue & Environmental Response. Matters that cannot be resolved by the Committee will be referred to, at the outset, the Directors General of the Marine Safety Directorate of Transport Canada and Rescue and Environmental Response Directorate of Fisheries & Oceans. Further review, if necessary, will be made by the Interdepartmental Affairs Committee. i.e. , following the procedure set forth in Part I of the memorandum.
  3. Where amendment of regulations referred to in this Annex, under the administration of one department may affect the policies or operations of the other department, or the clients served by the other Department, or where the legislative control of the relevant statutory or regulatory instruments has not yet been transferred, the Departments agree that joint sign-off by both Ministers will be necessary. Recommendation for joint sign-off is made by the Small Vessel Committee to the Interdepartmental Affairs Committee.
  4. The Departments will maintain ongoing working relationships where there are matters of mutual interest such as standards, construction of small vessels and equipment carriage requirements, approvals, testing and certification of flotation devices.
  5. The Departments agree to notify one another in the event that one suspects irregularities or non-compliance with requirements for which the other Department is known to have responsibility.

I. Signing Authorities


Canadian Coast Guard
Fisheries & Oceans
M. Turner R. Jackson
Assistant Deputy Minister,
Safety & Security
Transport Canada



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