Dalhousie Law Journal


pollution, merchant, shipping, marine, environment, ships, liability, sea, environmental law


Infrequent but catastrophic incidents of pollution by ships have attracted worldwide attention to the regulation of the merchant shipping industry for the protection of the marine environment. Under the detailed legal regime that has been established, ships and their owners are held strictly liable for the pollution of the oceans that they cause. Less well known but equally well established are other principles of maritime law that allow shipowners to limit their liability for the expense and damage their polluting ships incur. Canada has recently undertaken a major reform of its shipping laws and, in the process, it has revamped the national regime respecting ship sourced pollution. This article investigates the grounds and extent of civil liability of shipowners under this regime and thus exposes the actual allocation of loss and expense when ships pollute the seas.