Canada has published new Marine Navigation Safety Regulations, which now apply to commercial vessels of all sizes, including fishing vessels, workboats, water taxis and ferries.
The new regulations, which reflect extensive consultation with Canadians and the marine industry, represent a consolidation of nine existing sets of marine safety regulations into a single one that provides clearer and more up to date language on required navigational safety equipment.
The Marine Navigation Safety Regulations 2020 require vessel owners to have equipment to help reduce the risk of collisions that could cause pollution, like oil spills, and threaten endangered marine life, such as whales. They are also required to have lifesaving equipment that will send emergency signals and provide the vessel’s location.
The new regulations apply to over 23,000 commercial vessels of all sizes and include enhanced requirements to address important safety issues highlighted by serious marine occurrences, such as the fatal capsizing of the Leviathan II in 2017, after which the Chief Coroner, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, and the Auditor General all made key safety recommendations. These include requirements for commercial vessels to have equipment on board to help improve search and rescue efforts as well as for collision avoidance.
While some of the requirements take effect immediately, others will take effect over the coming years: Automatic Identification Systems requirements will take effect in April 2021; Electronic Chart Display Information Systems in October 2021; and Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm Systems in January 2022.
Between 2008 and 2018, there were an average of 50 serious injuries and 16 fatalities per year from incidents on commercial vessels in Canadian waters. In many cases, the vessels had no way to signal for help. With the new equipment requirements under the Navigation Safety Regulations, 2020, search and rescue units will now be better able to receive emergency signals and find vessels in distress.