The Government of Canada ensuring that polluters pay for causing hazardous and noxious substances spills

News release

Canada depends on the marine sector to bring commodities to and from overseas markets in a way that protects our coastlines from the risk of a serious spill that could cause severe damage. Under the Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada is ensuring ongoing protection of our coasts as part of the building of a modern, competitive and sustainable economy.

On April 23, 2018, the Government announced its ratification of the 2010 Hazardous and Noxious Substances Protocol, a global regime that ensures compensation for those affected by a hazardous and noxious substances spill.

Though these types of spills are rare, they can have severe consequences on coastal communities, tourism activities, fishing industries, and can incur significant clean-up costs.

The Government has long recognized the marine risk associated with the transportation of hazardous and dangerous goods along our coasts. By ratifying the Protocol, Canada agrees to apply the “polluter pay principle” – making ship owners liable for hazardous and noxious substances spills. Once the Protocol comes into force, a new global compensation fund to compensate affected individuals and communities will be established through contributions from industry.

The 2010 Hazardous and Noxious Substances Protocol has to be ratified or acceded to by at least 12 countries. Canada ratified the Protocol on Monday, April 23, and joins Norway and Turkey as the first three countries to lead the way to the entry into force of the new regime.

The Government of Canada led extensive consultations with Canadians during the development of the 2010 Hazardous and Noxious Substances Protocol. The shipping, oil, gas, chemical, and petrochemical industries consistently expressed support for the development of a global liability and compensation regime.

The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways. Through this plan, the Government of Canada is creating a world-leading marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while protecting our coasts and waterways for generations to come. This work is being done in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, local stakeholders and coastal communities.


“The ratification of the 2010 Hazardous and Noxious Protocol is an important step towards the protection of our oceans and the economic prosperity of our coastal communities. The Government of Canada is committed to the continued building of a world-leading marine safety system that improves response to marine pollution incidents.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport Canada

Quick facts

  • Canada’s ratification document was delivered to Mr. Kitack Lim, the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization.

  • Hazardous and noxious substances include products like liquefied natural gas, sulphuric acid, caustic soda, and ammonia. They can be flammable, explosive, toxic, corrosive or reactive.

  • Globally, it is estimated that over 200 million tonnes of hazardous and noxious substances are traded annually by ships.

  • To implement and give force of law to the 2010 Hazardous and Noxious Substances Protocol in Canada, the Government amended the Marine Liability Act in 2014 and subsequently published regulations.

  • The full name of the 2010 Hazardous and Noxious Protocol is the Protocol of 2010 to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 1996.

  • The federal government will hold engagement sessions with Canadians in spring 2018 as a part of efforts to enhance Canada’ preparedness and response to ship-source spills of hazardous and noxious substances.

Associated links


Delphine Denis
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

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