Chapter 15 - Report accidents and pollution

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Report All Accidents

Reportable marine accidents and incidents must be reported as soon as possible.

A reportable marine accident is where:

  1. a person suffers a serious injury or is killed as a result of:
    1. being on board the vessel or falling overboard from the vessel; or
    2. coming into contact with any part of the vessel or its contents; or
  2. the vessel:
    1. sinks, founders or capsizes;
    2. is involved in a collision;
    3. sustains a fire or an explosion;
    4. goes aground;
    5. sustains damage that affects its seaworthiness or renders it unfit for its purpose; or
    6. is missing or abandoned.

A reportable marine incident is where:

  1. a person falls overboard from the vessel;
  2. the vessel, of 100 gross tonnage or more, unintentionally makes contact with the bottom without going aground;
  3. the vessel fouls a utility cable or pipe, or an underwater commodity pipeline;
  4. the vessel is involved in a risk of collision (close call);
  5. the vessel sustains a total failure of any machinery;
  6. the vessel sustains a shifting of cargo or a loss of cargo overboard;
  7. the vessel is intentionally grounded or beached to avoid an accident;
  8. any crew member whose duties are directly related to safely operating the vessel is unable to perform his/her duties as a result of a physical illness or injury, posing a threat to the safety of any person, property or the environment; or
  9. any dangerous goods are released on board or from the vessel.

When a reportable marine accident or incident takes place, the owner, operator, charterer, pilot or any crew member of a commercial vessel must report, without delay, as much of the information listed below as possible, by radio or by telephone to a Canadian radio ship reporting station. You must also make a written report to the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) by the quickest available means.

Your report should include:

  1. the name or identification number, nationality and type of the vessel;
  2. the names of the owner, operator, charterer and agents of the vessel;
  3. the names and qualifications of the master of the vessel;
  4. the date and time of the accident or incident;
  5. the weather and sea conditions at the time of the accident or incident;
  6. a description of the navigational aids on board the vessel;
  7. the last point of departure and intended destination of the vessel, including the date and time of the departure;
  8. where the vessel is not missing,
    1. the location of the accident or incident by reference to an easily defined geographical point, or by latitude and longitude,
    2. the number of crew members, passengers and other persons that were killed or sustained a serious injury,
    3. a description of the accident or incident and the extent of any resulting damage to the vessel, the environment and other property, and
    4. a description of any dangerous goods aboard, or released from, the vessel;
  9. where the vessel is missing,
    1. the last known position of the vessel by reference to an easily defined geographical point, or by latitude and longitude, including the date and time of that position,
    2. the number of crew members and passengers aboard the vessel,
    3. a description of any dangerous goods aboard the vessel, and
    4. the action being taken to locate the vessel;
  10. the technical specifications of the vessel such as the tonnage, length and type of propulsion;
  11. a description of the cargo aboard the vessel; and
  12. the name and address of the person making the report and, where applicable, the name or identification number of the vessel from which the report is being made.

You must also submit a Report of a Marine Occurrence/Hazardous Occurrence Report ( PDF version, 363 kB ; TSB Form 1808) on the accident or incident directly to the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) at the address below within 30 days of the occurrence. The report must include a statement as to the probable cause.

The report to  TSB may also be made to a Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) Centre.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada
200 Promenade du Portage, 4th Floor, Place du Centre
Gatineau  QC K1A 1K8
Tel.: (613) 720-5540 (24 hours/day)
Fax: (819) 953-1583

Note to vessel owners and operators: Penalties may result if you fail to report a marine occurrence. The penalty for not giving notice or falsifying a report is a fine of up to $2,000, a prison term of up to two years – or both.

Accident Investigation

The Transportation Safety Board is an independent agency. It investigates selected marine accidents and incidents and communicates risks in the transportation system. The TSB does not assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability, but identifies causes and contributing factors and publicly reports its findings to improve transportation safety.

Transport Canada may also investigate marine occurrences for breach of regulations that may identify unsafe operating procedures, poor vessel standards or insufficient crew training. Transport Canada may also investigate where a vessel is involved in an accident resulting in its loss, destruction or damage and that put people in danger to find out if an operator or crew's actions were unsafe or illegal.




Protect Canada's Waterways




A cleaner marine environment begins with you. Operating a well designed and maintained vessel and using safe, environmentally sound practices when handling pollutants are ways you can help ensure the health of Canada's waterways for future generations.

Canada has laws to protect our waterways and shorelines that apply to small commercial vessels. The Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and for Dangerous Chemicals make it illegal to accidentally or wilfully discharge oil, garbage, sewage or other pollutants into Canadian waters – actions that carry penalties of up to $1 million. It is your responsibility to make sure you know and obey the laws in force wherever you go boating.

Holding and Treating Sewage

Sewage contains, among other things, human or animal body waste, drainage and other waste from toilets. Division 4 of the Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and for Dangerous Chemicals sets out where and how you can discharge sewage, with additional restrictions for the Great Lakes basin and waters that are "designated sewage areas." The regulations prohibit the use of freestanding portable toilets. They also require that vessels fitted with toilets be equipped with either a holding tank or a marine sanitation device if they were built after May 16, 2007, or they operate on the Great Lakes basin or in designated sewage areas. Vessels built before May 16, 2007, have until May 2012 to install this equipment.

Choose a holding tank or a marine sanitation device that works for you. A holding tank is only used to collect and store sewage or sewage sludge, and must be emptied at approved pump-out facilities on dry land only. Be sure to follow pumping instructions and avoid using disinfectants, as they may harm the environment.

A marine sanitation device (MSD) is designed to receive and treat sewage on board. Only sewage treated with an  MSD that meets the standards set out in the regulations may be discharged in rivers, lakes and other navigable fresh waters within Canada. To find an approved MSD , check the Approved Products Catalogue Index online at

Report Pollution

The law requires polluters to report any oil spill to the Canadian Coast Guard right away. Polluters must pay for clean up, and a rapid response can often lower overall costs. Failing to report a spill from your vessel may lead to heavy fines and penalties.

Help hold polluters accountable. If you see pollution being discharged from any vessel or notice oil or chemical pollution in Canadian waters, contact the Canadian Coast Guard using VHF channel 16 (156.8 MHz ).

You will be asked to provide the following information:

  1. Your name and contact details.
  2. When and where the pollution occurred.
  3. The type of discharge or a description of the product.
  4. The extent of pollution or area covered.
  5. The name of the vessel or other source.

The Canadian Coast Guard will contact the owner and take steps to remove the pollution.

Listed below are phone numbers for pollution reporting.

Pollution Reporting Telephone Numbers






Thinking Green

"As mariners, we only contribute a small portion of the overall pollution entering our coastal waters, but it often concentrates near sensitive foreshore areas and in confined bays. There's a lot we can do to ensure the future health of our coastal waters."

Message from the Commercial Green Boating Guide
published by the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation
and available on the foundation web site

The Commercial Green Boating Guide ( PDF version, 1.2 mB ) outlines steps that you can take to reduce your environmental impact, such as the following.




Stop the Spread of Invasive Species




Many have seen invasive species, such as zebra mussels and green crab, take over local waters. You can do your part by keeping your hull clean. Rinsing or cleaning your hull after use or before entering new waters helps to remove spores and other invasive organisms. Some communities require this as part of local bylaws.

Use Environmentally Friendly Cleaners

All-purpose cleanser Mix 30 millilitres (ml) of baking soda or borax, 30 ml of tea tree essential oil, 125 ml of vinegar, 15 ml of biodegradable dish soap and 2 litres of hot water. Spray on the surfaces to be cleaned.
Chromium Rub with baking soda. Rinse and polish with vinegar in hot water.
Deck and floor Pour 250 ml of vinegar in 2 litres of water.
Drain Pour 60 ml of baking soda in the drain, followed by 60 ml of vinegar. Let it rest for 15 minutes, then pour in a full kettle of boiling water.
Mould Add 60 ml of borax and 30 ml of vinegar to 500 ml of hot water. Spray the mixture to eliminate germs.
Toilet Pour 125 ml of baking soda and 125 ml of vinegar into the toilet bowl. The foaming reaction cleans and deodorizes. Brush and flush.
Window and mirror Mix 2 ml of liquid soap, 45 ml of vinegar and 500 ml of water in a spray bottle. Use a cotton rag to clean and shine.
Wood (polish) Mix 30 ml of edible linseed oil, 30 ml of vinegar and 60 ml of lemon juice in a glass pitcher. Rub the solution into the wood with a soft rag until it is clean. To store the solution, add a few drops of vitamin E from a capsule and cover.


Remember These Green Boating Tips


  1. Make sure your engine is well maintained to reduce air pollution.
  2. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to properly tune your motor and limit air emissions.
  3. Limit engine idling.
  4. Use only paints approved for marine use.
  5. When fuelling, do not top off tanks, and clean up any spilled fuel.
  6. Obey all sewage regulations.
  7. Put garbage in its place. Do not litter.
  8. Try not to use detergents – even biodegradable cleaners may be hard on water-dwelling plants and animals.
  9. Avoid shoreline erosion – watch your wake and propeller wash.
  10. Obey all speed limits for better fuel economy.
  11. Report pollution when you see it.

More Information

To consult your local Transport Canada Centre or the nearest Transportation Safety Board Regional Office, see Appendix 2, or visit the Transportation Safety Board website at

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