Notes From Parliament Hill
Ever increasingly the subject of marine security seems
to dominate the regulatory agenda these days
The International Ship and Port Facility Security
Code (the Code) was ratified in December 2002 by the International
Maritime Organization as an amendment to the SOLAS Convention of
1974. The Code will be enforced worldwide by port states from July
1st, 2004 and at that time the Code will apply to all passenger
and cargo ships of over 500 gross tons in addition to mobile offshore
In short, the Code requires the completion of security
assessments and security plans, and the designation of security
The US Coast Guard have adopted the position that
each foreign flag ship will receive a "verification boarding"
the first time the ship calls at a US port after July 1st. Entry
will be denied to all ships that lack a valid International Ship
The Code, in effect, opens for scrutiny a ship's trading
history and ports known to have lax security or those ports in countries
that have not yet signed off on the Code are going to win ships
extra attention from the regulatory authorities, and such attention
will inevitably result in delays.
The port state is required to accept a valid International
Ship Security Certificate "at face value" unless, that
is there are clear grounds to believe that the ship is not in compliance
with the Code. Ship owners, in this age of increased security awareness
should be under no doubt that the regulatory authorities will seek
"clear grounds" to lay the foundation for subsequent ship
inspections by reviewing security records and also by observing
and interviewing crew members after July 1st. Ship owners are therefore
best advised to keep good security records and to prepare their
crews for the inevitable interviews.
Canada is on course to meet the July 1st deadline.
Marine Transportation Security Regulations implementing the requirements
of the Code have been approved by the Governor in Council for publication
in the Canada Gazette, Part II on June 2nd, 2004. In addition, the
Government of Canada has recently established a Contribution Program
to assist ports and port facilities with the added cost of security
The Code and the impending regulations, in addition
to enhancing marine security in Canada may also benefit the embattled
Canadian Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is presently trying to break
out of its cocoon at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and
transform itself into an independent agency reporting to the Minister
of Transport. The Agency is seeking to be charged with primary responsibility
for marine search and rescue, emergency environmental response and
marine pollution prevention, in addition to marine security.
Marine Ship-Source Pollution
While the subject of security continues to denominate
the marine regulatory agenda, thankfully it does not occupy the
field exclusively. Canada is presently in the throes of an election
with an expected outcome late next month (June 2004) of a minority
liberal government. Before Parliament was dissolved earlier this
month, the government introduced new legislation to amend the Migratory
Birds Convention Act, 1994 and the Canadian Environmental Protection
Act, 1999. The amendments were introduced in large part, to address
the seemingly endless problem of the illegal discharge of oily waste
at sea off the south coast of Newfoundland.
In recent years, the government has been buoyed by
the prosecution of ships such as the Baltic Confidence and the CSL
Atlas which resulted in fines as high as C$125,000. 00 (USD 86,000.00).
One of the world's busiest shipping routes and one
of Canada's most sensitive seabird habitats converge off the south
east coast of Newfoundland and recent data from Environment Canada
would suggest that more than 300,000 birds die each year as a result
of ships deliberately dumping bilge waste in the shipping channel.
The legislative amendments follow the example of the
Canada Shipping Act and increase the maximum penalty available under
the Migratory Birds Convention Act to C$ 1 million, extend the jurisdiction
of both Acts to include the exclusive economic zone out to the 200
nautical mile limit and place an express reference in the Migratory
Birds Convention Act to permit the prosecution of ships officers.
The subject of marine ship-source pollution tends
to be non-partisan and the possibility of a minority liberal government
after Canada's Election Day on June 28, 2004 bodes well for the
reintroduction of this legislative initiative.
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