Oil spill response regulations

Vessels trading in Canadian waters are required to carry an oil pollution emergency plan and a declaration confirming the existence of an arrangement between the owner and a Coast Guard certified (private) Oil Spill Response Organisation.  

To date, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) has certified the following:   

  • Eastern Canada Response Corporation (ECRC) covering Canadian Waters south of the 600N Latitude in the provinces of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, excluding the Waters in the primary area of response associated with the designated ports of Saint John, New Brunswick and Point Tupper, Nova Scotia.

  • Atlantic Emergency Response Team (ALERT) covering the port of St. John.

  • Point Tupper Marine Services (PTMS) covering the Strait of Canso.

  • West Coast Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) covering all West coast waters.

There are two types of arrangements possible:  

  • a Single GAR (geographical area of response) representing an individual contract for either ECRC, ALERT, PTMS or WCMRC, or

  • a Multiple GAR arrangement which entitles a vessel to transit multiple geographical areas of response, as negotiated by Response Organisations.

Currently, the annual registration fees charged to all vessels covering unlimited transits through the respective area(s) of coverage are:

  • CAD 450.00 for a Single GAR 
  • CAD 750.00 for a Multiple GAR

However, pursuant to an ECRC amendment published in the Canada Gazette, effective May 1, 2000, the Single GAR fee for a vessel  that "navigates or engages in a marine activity within a 500 kilometre radius from its home port and within ECRC's geographic area is four-hundred and fifty dollars (CAD 450) plus all applicable taxes. The registration fee for a ship that navigates or engages in a marine activity 

(a) beyond a 500 kilometre radius from its home port, and within ECRC's geographic are, Alert's geographic area or PTMS' geographic area; or

(b) from a port not within ECRC's geographic area, and within ECRC's geographic area, Alert's geographic area, or PTMS' geographic area  is seven hundred (CAD 750)."

Effectively, the above amendment requires that all foreign vessels obtain the Multiple-GAR agreement.

Furthermore, tankers may be subject to Bulk Oil Cargo Fees (BOCF) charged per tonne of oil discharged or loaded for export. The rate varies from one region to another. The BOCF is payable either by the carrier or by the oil terminal/shore facility, provided that the facility is a member of a respective response organisation, i.e. tankers only pay the BOCF if the terminal is not a member of a respective response organisation.

Under Worldscale terms, both the BOCF and the corresponding administration fee are for charterers' account.

The current bulk oil cargo fees are as follows:  

Eastern Canada Response Corporation CAD per tonne
Quebec/Maritimes Region 01/01/2012 01/01/2013 01/01/2014
- Oil other than asphalt 0.16 0.19 0.25
- Asphalt 0.08 0.095 0.125
Newfoundland Region 01/01/2012 01/01/2013  
- Oil other than asphalt 0.10 0.10  
- Asphalt 0.05 0.05  
Great Lakes Region 01/01/2012 01/01/2013  
- Oil other than asphalt 0.48 0.55  
- Asphalt 0.24 0.275  
Atlantic Emergency Response Team 03/10/1998    
- Oil other than asphalt 0.14    
- Asphalt 0.07    
Point Tupper Marine Services 26/09/1998    
- Oil other than asphalt 0.225    
- Asphalt 0.1125    
West Coast Marine Response Corporation 01/01/2007    
- Oil other than asphalt 0.67    
- Asphalt 0.335    


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