How Transport Canada enforces the Canada Marine Act

The page contains an overview of the Canada Marine Act and how Transport Canada enforces it.

On this page

Overview of the act

The Canada Marine Act modernized Canada's marine transportation regulations to marine transportation in Canada more efficient and safe. The Canada Marine Act:

  • made Canadian ports competitive, efficient and commercially oriented
  • established Port Authorities
  • designated certain harbours and ports, like the St. Lawrence Seaway, and
  • supported other matters related to marine trade and transport

The Canada Port Authorities, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, Department of National Defence, and Transport Canada have individual responsibilities as well as business and governance structures under the Canada Marine Act.


Canada Marine Act regulations 

Regulations related to enforcing the Canada Marine Act include:

Other relevant laws 

In addition to the Canada Marine Act, there are a number of other safety and environment-related laws for Canada Port Authorities, public ports, the Seaway, and Department of National Defence harbours, such as the Canada Labour Code, Canada Shipping Act, Canadian Environmental Protection Act, Fisheries Act, and the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act.

Compliance and enforcement approach

A flexible, transparent, and predictable enforcement regime that includes warnings, administrative monetary penalties (fines), contraventions (violations), and prosecutions helps reduce non-compliance with the Canada Marine Act and its regulations. These measures help to ensure the safety and security of Canada's marine navigation sector.

Enforcement Officers use a scaled approach to enforce the act. They can use the best enforcement instrument and penalty based on each unique situation. Factors include the severity of the violation, whether the regulated party knew they were in violation, previous compliance history, and cooperation with Enforcement Officers. Officers use a graduated approach that considers the level of risk to make sure they enforce the act in a fair, consistent, and predictable way.

Corrective actions

Verbal warning

Verbal warning or counsel to a regulated entity by an enforcement official that identifies a non-compliance (violation) and asks for a return to compliance.

Written warning

Document issued by an enforcement official to a regulated entity that identifies a non-compliance (violation) and asks for a return to compliance.

Direction or order

Either a written notice issued by an Enforcement Officer, or an order issued by a court. This document directs a regulated party to use any means necessary to remedy a non-compliance, and/or stop an activity or do other activities, to reduce danger to public safety. The notice names what the party must do to comply with the order.

Contravention ticket

Anyone who violates the Canada Marine Act can receive a contravention ticket from an Enforcement Officer.

More information on contravention tickets

Administrative monetary penalties

Violators may receive a notice of violation from an Enforcement Officer. More information on Administrative monetary penalties under the Canada Marine Act.


Enforcement Officers may make a detention order if they believe that a ship, owner or person in charge has contravened (violated) any part of the Canada Marine Act or regulations, owes fees or interest under the Canada Marine Act, among other situations. Consult section 115 of the Canada Marine Act for more information on detentions.


Proceedings initiated by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada on behalf of Transport Canada in a court of law by way of a summary conviction or indictment to obtain a conviction and sentence for an offence.

Who are Canada Marine Act Enforcement Officers?

Enforcement Officers are designated by the Minister of Transport to enforce the Canada Marine Act and its regulations. They:

  • administer and enforce laws, policies and regulations governing the safe use of federal ports and harbours within their jurisdiction
  • can be employed by Transport Canada (for public ports), or Canadian Port Authorities, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, or the Department of National Defence, and
  • can board any ship or enter any vehicle, aircraft, premise, or other place, other than living quarters, to carry out inspections that the officers consider necessary

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