Tugboats: An Integral Part of Canada’s Economy – An Interview with Transport Canada

Jan 11, 2012

Do security inspections differ on tugboats?  Are there any green tugging initiatives in the country?  B.C. Tugboat magazine spoke with Jillian Glover, the Regional Communications advisor for Transport Canada, about the tugboat industry and standards in British Columbia.

Stephen Harper is on an Asian-Pacific trade mission right now.  What is the importance of the tugboat and shipping industry for the country to access lucrative and future lucrative growing markets?

Jillian Glover (JG): Increased access to future markets will likely result in increased marine traffic, since it is a principle mode of transporting goods overseas. Any increase in marine traffic activity could generate a need for supporting services such as those provided by tugboat operators.

Does the government have any programs or initiatives that encourage green tugging technology?

JG: There are no specific green tugboat initiatives; however, the Government of Canada ensures our waters are free of pollution through its zero tolerance policy toward polluting Canada’s marine environment. Transport Canada works to enforce strict pollution prevention and enforcement regulations under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. Transport Canada investigates all reported incidents of ship-source marine pollution. Whenever there is sufficient evidence, and when warranted, the department follows up with enforcement action which could be a recommendation for the prosecution or Administering Administrative Monetary Penalties of marine polluters.

How do security inspections differ on tugboats than other shipping vessels?

JG: If it is purely operating as a domestic tug, we do not regulate or conduct security inspections. Our Marine Transportation Security regulations cover SOLAS vessels (vessels that are 500 gross tons and greater) and Non-SOLAS vessels (vessels that are less than 500 gross tons) carrying certain dangerous cargo engaged on international voyages.

How do government inspectors recognize the different classes of tugboats?  Please give a brief overview.

 JG: Tugboats are classified according to their gross tonnage, voyage classification, and type of operation. Various regulations apply depending on these classifications, such as the Hull Inspection Regulations, Hull Construction Regulations, Life Saving Equipment Regulations, Ship Station Radio Regulations, Fire Detection and Extinguishing Equipment Regulations, Marine Personnel Regulations, etc.  These regulations then determine the type of inspection that is carried out.

What conditions would there be for a tugboat to be decommissioned?

JG: This is a decision for the vessel owners. As long as the tug is maintained and complies with all applicable Transport Canada safety regulations, it can be operated safely. Transport Canada can prevent non-compliant tugboats from operating, but the decision to decommission a vessel resides with its owner.

What is Transport Canada’s stance on safety?

JG: Canada aims to provide safe, secure, and environmentally responsible navigation for all vessels in our waters.

Transport Canada enhances marine safety through programs that protect life, health, property and the marine environment in the context of an efficient and sustainable marine transportation system. For example, we:

o       regulate safety equipment;

o       monitor pleasure craft and commercial vessels that enter Canadian waters; and

o       promote safe operation in commercial shipping through the certification of officers and crew on Canadian ships.

Safety is a shared responsibility. Our role is to set a minimum safety standard and work with our partners, such as the Pacific Pilotage Authority, Port Metro Vancouver, Canadian Coast Guard, Environment Canada and the vessel operators, to ensure safe operations of tugboats across British Columbia.

The Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA 2001), which replaced the old Canada Shipping Act (CSA) on July 1, 2007, is the principal legislation that governs safety in marine transportation, recreational boating and the protection of the marine environment. It applies to Canadian vessels operating in all waters and to all vessels operating in Canadian waters (all vessels from canoes and kayaks to cruise ships and tankers). The CSA 2001 is the result of extensive consultations with a wide-range of marine stakeholders. It represents an updated and streamlined version of the original CSA, making it clearer and easier to understand. This will greatly assist the marine community to operate in a manner that is safer, more efficient and environmentally sound, and responsive to the needs of Canadians in a global economy.

Many regulations that apply tugs and barges have been updated or added. These include: new Small Vessel Regulations; Fire Detection and Extinguishing Equipment Regulations; Cargo, Fumigation and Tackle Regulations; Collision Regulations; Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and for Dangerous Chemicals; Environmental Response Regulations; Vessel Certificates Regulations; Vessel Clearance Regulations; and Marine Personnel Regulations.  For detailed information on tugboat safety regulations, visit: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/mediaroom/backgrounders-b07-m015-2218.htm.