Safe Navigation

Chamber of Shipping > The Voyage > Safe Navigation

Safe Navigation

Collision Regulations

The underlying principles in safety of navigation on the high seas and waterways of the world are established in the “International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972” (COLREG). The Rules were adopted as a convention of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in October 1972 and entered into force in July 1977 and have been subsequently Amended.

Each member country of the IMO designates an “Administration” or federal authority or agency for implementing the provisions of the COLREG convention as it applies to vessels over which the federal authority has jurisdiction. Each national or federal administration is responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the regulations as it applies to ships and vessels over which it has legal authority. For example, Transport Canada regulates Canadian vessels and the United States Coast Guard regulates U.S. flagged vessels. In effect, there is a set of national navigation laws (regulations) which conform to the international convention. Each administration is empowered to enact modifications that apply to vessels in waters under the national jurisdiction concerned, provided that any such modifications remain consistent with the COLREGs.


The Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers Convention (STCW)

The STCW sets qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships. STCW was adopted in 1978 by conference at the IMO in London and entered into force in 1984. As a party to the Convention, Canada is required to implement a quality assurance system for the certification and training of Canadian seafarers, to ensure Canadian seafarers are internationally compliant, and to prevent detentions of Canadian vessels under Port State Control (PSC) in foreign countries.


Marine Pilotage

Safe passage of international vessels in British Columbia’s waters is regulated by Canada’s Pilotage Act and administered on the west coast by the Pacific Pilotage Authority. British Columbia has the largest single compulsory pilotage area in the world. 

The Pacific Pilotage Authority contracts coastal pilotage services from the B.C. Coast Pilots Ltd., a group of approximately 120 independent, experienced and highly trained Canadian pilots. The Fraser River has its own set of eight dedicated pilots, directly employed by the Pacific Pilotage Authority. For over a hundred years, the Fraser River Pilots Association has been successfully conducting ships on the Fraser River.

Canadian pilots have a comprehensive knowledge of the navigational hazards of the B.C. coastline, and are trained to manage unusual and emergency situations relating to vessel safety and protection of coastal waters.


Marine Communications and Traffic Services

The Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services centres provide: 

  • Distress and safety call monitoring and coordinate responses, broadcast maritime safety information (weather and navigational warnings); 
  • Screen vessels entering Canadian waters, deliver information and advice to regulate marine traffic movement;
  • Take appropriate action to ensure the safe and efficient movement of vessels in Canadian waters;

The Canadian Coast Guard, Western Region, operates three Vessel Traffic Services Zones:

Vancouver, Tofino, and Prince Rupert. The Vancouver zone includes waters from the northern tip of Vancouver Island, down the inside passage and the Gulf of Georgia to Victoria. The Vancouver zone is divided into four sectors, managed by Victoria MCTS, while the west, central, and north coast of Vancouver Island is managed by Prince Rupert.