Vol. 151, No. 51 — December 23, 2017

Regulations Amending the Small Vessel Regulations

Statutory authority

Canada Shipping Act, 2001

Sponsoring department

Department of Transport

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Issues

The Small Vessel Regulations (the Regulations) are the primary regulatory mechanism by which Transport Canada (TC) manages the safety equipment carriage and construction requirements for small vessels (see footnote 1) in Canada. The Regulations also provide the regulatory framework for the Pleasure Craft Electronic Licensing System.

While administering the Regulations, and in consultation with stakeholders, TC has identified three issues: stand-up paddleboards are not explicitly referenced in the Regulations and their use is therefore subject to safety requirements that are inconsistent with other similar activities, pyrotechnic visual distress signal (flare) requirements are increasingly burdensome and unsafe, and a loophole in the pleasure craft licensing process can result in out-of-date licence information and safety issues in the event of an emergency.

Background

Transport Canada regulates the construction and operational procedures on small vessels in order to reduce the likelihood of accidents and incidents, and regulates the carriage of safety equipment and pleasure craft licensing to make incidents more survivable when they do occur.

Stand-up paddleboards

Stand-up paddleboarding is a paddling activity whereby the operator navigates standing on a surf board and uses a paddle. Stand-up paddleboarding evolved out of surfing, and has become a means of navigation on water bodies across Canada, including rivers, lakes and oceans.

As a relatively new type of small vessel, stand-up paddleboards are not specifically referenced in the Regulations, and are therefore treated the same as other human powered pleasure craft (e.g. sit-on-top kayaks, canoes), with the same safety equipment carriage requirements. When used for navigation, stand-up paddleboards must be equipped with the following: an approved personal flotation device or lifejacket, 15 m of buoyant heaving line, a sound-signalling device (e.g. a whistle), navigation lights, if the vessel is operated between sunset and sunrise, and a magnetic compass when operated beyond sight of seamarks. Non-navigation activities are not subject to the mandatory carriage of safety equipment (e.g. surfing, stand-up paddleboard yoga).

In practice, the operation of stand-up paddleboards is similar to the operation of sit-on-top kayaks and other sealed-hull vessels. Currently, an exception is provided under the Regulations, stating that if every person on board a paddleboat, a watercycle or sealed-hull, sit-on-top kayak is wearing a personal flotation device or lifejacket of an appropriate size, the paddleboat, watercycle or kayak is required to carry on board only a sound-signalling device and, if the paddleboat, watercycle or kayak is operated after sunset or before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility, a watertight flashlight. The exemption removes the requirement to carry 15 m of buoyant heaving line, and motivates the wearing of personal flotation devices or lifejackets.

Pyrotechnic distress signals (flares)

The Regulations require that certain categories of vessels carry pyrotechnic distress signals (flares) on bodies of water where they can be more than one nautical mile from shore. Flares are used to signal distress by notifying rescuers of an emergency situation or by aiding rescuers to pinpoint the location of a known vessel in distress. The Regulations allow three types of pyrotechnic signals: rocket flares, handheld flares and smoke signals. Rocket flares and handheld flares can be used at any time, day or night, whereas smoke signals, which contain orange-coloured smoke that is released upon activation, are considered daytime distress signals, and can therefore only make a limited contribution to a vessel’s pyrotechnical distress signal complement.

Flares are costly items that have an expiry date, four years from the date of manufacture, and should be replaced, even if unused, at regular intervals. Flares are not often used by small vessels, such as pleasure craft, but do have merit in certain boating scenarios (e.g. boating accidents). Flares contain materials that are potentially hazardous to the environment (e.g. strontium nitrate, fuel oil) and that can be unstable once expired. Therefore, proper disposal of flares is required.

In years past, flares were accepted at local police detachments and fire halls for disposal; however, many of these agencies no longer accept expired flares due to the associated environmental and safety risks. There are now few responsible and accessible options for the disposal of expired flares, which can lead to their unsafe storage and/or improper disposal. The boating community has expressed frustration with the price of flares and with the number of flares required on board a vessel, given a range of safe and effective signalling alternatives.

Pleasure craft licence

Every pleasure craft powered by one or more motors, adding up to 10 hp or more, must be licensed, and its unique licence number must be displayed on the bow of the boat. This unique identifier, and associated contact information, are maintained in TC’s Pleasure Craft Electronic Licensing System, providing search and rescue personnel with access to important information in an emergency situation. In 2016, the Pleasure Craft Electronic Licensing System was accessed by first responders on 26 occasions.

When the Regulations came into force in April 2010, they prescribed that all pleasure craft licences expired 10 years after they were issued, transferred, renewed or updated, as a way to ensure that contact information was as up-to-date and accurate as possible. However, extending the expiry date by 10 years when a licence is updated inadvertently allowed obsolete information to be retained in the Pleasure Craft Electronic Licensing System well beyond 10 years (e.g. the licence may have been updated to reflect a change in vessel colour, extending the licence expiry date by 10 years, during which the owner’s telephone number may have changed, and not been reflected in the licence).

Objectives

The objectives of the proposed Regulations Amending the Small Vessel Regulations (the proposed amendments) are to promote the safe operation of stand-up paddleboards while better aligning safety equipment carriage requirements with other similar vessels; mitigate the safety and environmental risks associated with flares, while maintaining the ability of vessels to signal distress; and increase safety by reducing the period of time during which inaccurate information can be retained in the Pleasure Craft Electronic Licensing System.

Description

Stand-up paddleboards

The proposed amendments would add stand-up paddleboards to the list of vessels that have reduced safety equipment carriage requirements when each person aboard wears a lifejacket or personal flotation device.

Pyrotechnic distress signals (flares)

The proposed amendments would allow pleasure craft not more than nine metres in length, human-powered craft more than six metres in length (e.g. sailboats) and personal watercraft the option to carry smoke signals as part of their pyrotechnic distress signal requirements under the Regulations (see Table below).

The proposed amendments would also allow pleasure craft more than six metres in length to reduce the number of pyrotechnic distress signals of each type currently required to be carried, by sections 205 and 210 of the Regulations, by a maximum of 50%, provided the number of smoke signals does not exceed 50% of the permitted number of smoke signals in those sections, if the vessel is equipped with an electronic communication device, including

  1. A means of two-way radio communication (e.g. cell phones, satellite phones or other satellite communication devices, VHF radios with digital select calling);
  2. A 406 MHz personal locator beacon, which is a personal safety device designed to alert search and rescue services and allow them to quickly locate a person in the event of an emergency; or
  3. A 406 MHz emergency position-indicating radio beacon, which is used to alert search and rescue services in the event of an emergency via a satellite.

Both personal locator beacons and emergency position-indicating radio beacons use the international COSPAS-SARSAT search-and-rescue satellite system to transmit alert information to the appropriate rescue coordination centre.

Table: Current and proposed pyrotechnic distress signal requirements

Vessel

Current pyrotechnic distress signal requirements

Proposed pyrotechnic
distress signal requirement

Proposed pyrotechnic distress signal requirement with the addition of a means of electronic communication

Not more than six metres

Three pyrotechnic distress signals other than smoke signals

Three pyrotechnic distress signals, not more than one of which is a smoke signal

No change in the requirements

More than six metres, but not more than nine metres

Six pyrotechnic distress signals other than smoke signals

Six pyrotechnic distress signals, not more than two of which are smoke signals

At least three pyrotechnic distress signals, not more than one of which is a smoke signal

More than nine metres

Twelve pyrotechnic distress signals, not more than six of which are smoke signals

No change

At least six pyrotechnic distress signals, not more than three of which are smoke signals

Human-powered craft (e.g. sailboats) more than six metres

Six pyrotechnic distress signals other than smoke signals

Six pyrotechnic distress signals, not more than two of which are smoke signals

At least three pyrotechnic distress signals, not more than one of which is a smoke signal

Personal watercraft

Three pyrotechnic distress signals other than smoke signals

Three pyrotechnic distress signals, not more than one of which is a smoke signal

No change in the requirements

Pleasure craft licence

The proposed amendments would clarify that an update to a licence would not extend the expiry date of a pleasure craft licence by an additional 10 years.

“One-for-One” Rule

The proposed amendments would not apply to commercial vessels, and would not impact businesses. The “One-for-One” Rule would therefore not apply.

Small business lens

The proposed amendments would not apply to commercial vessels, and would not impact small businesses. The small business lens would therefore not apply.

Consultation

Stand-up paddleboards

Transport Canada began discussions with members of the paddling community in early 2012, and public consultations were held through the Canadian Marine Advisory Council (CMAC) (see footnote 2) and the National Recreational Boating Advisory Council (NRBAC) (see footnote 3) in April 2016. The proposed amendments relating to stand-up paddleboards are largely supported by stakeholders, including Paddle Canada, a national, non-governmental organization that sets standards for instruction and certification for recreational canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.

Some early misunderstandings about how stand-up paddleboards would be regulated caused confusion, particularly in the surfing community. Discussions clarified that stand-up paddleboards that continue to be used as surf boards in a surf environment and not for navigation would not be subject to the requirements of the Regulations. However, if a stand-up paddleboard is used as a vessel for navigation, then it would need to meet the requirements of the Regulations and the proposed amendments. No other concerns were raised regarding the proposed amendments.

Pyrotechnic distress signals (flares)

Stakeholders have been expressing concerns related to the requirements for distress signals for at least 10 years. Requests for revisions to the carriage requirements for pleasure craft have been discussed regularly at meetings of the CMAC Standing Committee on Recreational Boating. (see footnote 4) Consultations were also undertaken at numerous national and regional NRBAC meetings between 2007 and 2016. Consultation sessions included representation from the Canadian Safe Boating Council, the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron, Sail Canada, the Ontario Provincial Police, various other recreational boating associations, enforcement organizations, and manufacturers and distributors of pyrotechnic distress signals.

In addition to these national and regional consultation sessions, stakeholders and industry representatives have also provided input directly to TC by email and telephone. In the spring of 2010, Transport Canada sent out a discussion document detailing the proposed changes to the Regulations to stakeholders on the CMAC distribution list and to others as required, to seek their feedback on the proposal. Although no direct feedback was received through this outreach activity, the document did help initiate additional discussions at CMAC and RBAC meetings between 2010 and 2015. No opposition to the proposed modifications has been communicated by stakeholders.

Pleasure craft licence

The proposed amendments related to the removal of the word “update” to prevent the trigger of a new expiry date was discussed with stakeholders at CMAC and RBAC meetings from 2010 to 2013. No opposition to the proposed modification has been communicated by stakeholders.

Rationale

Stand-up paddleboards

The full list of safety equipment required for recreational vessels is intended for conventional hulled vessels and useful equipment of this type is difficult to stow on a paddleboard. For the vast majority of stand-up paddleboard users, this is an inconvenient requirement that carries minimum (if any) safety advantages for this type of vessel. The proposed amendments would simply enable stand-up paddleboard users to carry the same safety equipment that is already allowed for other open-type recreational craft where immersion is more likely.

The proposed amendments would not prohibit boaters from continuing to carry the currently required equipment, but would allow the option of choosing to wear their flotation device while they are paddling instead of carrying all of the safety equipment required for more conventional vessels. The most common contributing factor for drowning is not wearing a personal flotation device or lifejacket; by increasing the incentive to use lifejackets or personal flotation devices while operating stand-up paddleboards, the proposed amendments would therefore reduce the likelihood of drowning fatalities. In addition, the proposed amendments would result in a small reduction in the cost of stand-up paddleboarding, due to a reduction in equipment requirements (i.e. elimination of the heaving line requirement).

Pyrotechnic distress signals (flares)

In response to feedback from the boating community, TC reviewed the current policy related to the carriage of flares with the goal of decreasing the required number of flares and allowing more flexible alternatives. With improved electronic means of distress alert and location provisions now available, reductions in carriage requirements for flares, in some instances, are now possible without compromising safety. This evolution is reflected in other regulations (e.g. the Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations), which allow for the use of alternative two-way communication devices such as cell phones, satellite phones and other satellite communication devices. The Canadian Coast Guard provides 24-hour monitoring on VHF Channel 16 for distress calls where available in Canada, and a call into VHF Channel 16 can be used to signal imminent danger or a life-threatening situation. Many areas in Canada are provided with cell phone *16 coverage or a dedicated telephone number to contact marine emergency response organizations. Transport Canada continues to encourage the use of marine VHF radio when in coverage of the Canadian Coast Guard network and alternatively to make use of established maritime distress alerting systems such as 406 MHz beacons.

The proposed amendments would decrease the number of required flares, address some stakeholder concerns related to the storage and disposal of expired flares, and reduce releases of potentially harmful elements into the environment. The proposed amendments would also allow all sizes of pleasure craft to carry smoke signals as part of the total flare requirements. This adjustment will allow increased options for daytime signals (smoke signals are used for daytime signalling only) while ensuring that night time signals are also carried. Smoke signals are considered to be less dangerous to use and store than flares.

Technology is continually evolving in the field of electronic communications. While light-emitting diode (LED) lights and laser flare technology may also provide new options for electronic distress signals, further research is needed. Industry is developing a new standard for electronic visual detection signalling devices based on performance testing and research conducted by the United States Coast Guard. Transport Canada is monitoring this development and will consider integrating the standard into the Regulations in the future, in consultation with emergency response organizations such as the Canadian Coast Guard and the Department of National Defence.

Pleasure craft licence

The purpose of the licensing requirement is to provide boating data to support policy decisions and to ensure that accurate information is available for search and rescue purposes and for enforcement personnel. Data will also help establish a link between vessels and responsible owners for the purpose of addressing environmental issues and other potential issues pertaining to vessels (e.g. derelict and abandoned vessels).

The purpose of the 10-year expiry currently found in the Regulations is to help ensure that within a defined timeline, all vessel owners are required to renew their licence, which includes providing updated personal contact information. The Regulations currently, and unintentionally, enable updates to licensing information (e.g. name change or address change) to trigger a new 10-year licence expiry date. The proposed amendments would correct this loophole, supporting the inclusion of more accurate up-to-date information in the licensing database. By closing this loophole, the proposed amendments would result in hardly any additional time-costs for licence holders and TC for licence renewals (there are no fees associated with pleasure craft licences — the service to obtain or update a licence is offered free online or by mail). Transport Canada estimates that approximately 10 000 additional licence renewals would be required each year, with a total annual time-cost valued at $148,000, including $126,000 for licence holders and $22,000 for TC.

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

Enforcement officers have a range of tools available to them and the latitude to apply an appropriate tool to a particular violation. These include, but are not limited to, providing educational information and fostering awareness of what constitutes safe boating, the ability to issue a warning or multiple warnings and, if required, issuing tickets with fines or a summons. The decision on how to proceed is left solely to the judgment of the enforcement officer.

The Contraventions Regulations, made pursuant to the Contraventions Act, set out prescribed fine amounts for contraventions of regulations made under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. The Regulations have specific contravention amounts to a maximum of $500 under the Contraventions Regulations. Enforcement is by way of summary conviction or ticketing under the Contraventions Act. Enforcement officers include the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), provincial and municipal police forces, as well as other groups of inspectors and enforcement officers.

Service standards for pleasure craft licence

Pleasure craft licence transactions are processed at TC’s Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre. Transport Canada’s current service standard is five working days upon receipt of a completed pleasure craft licence application. The proposed amendments would not have any effect on TC’s current service standards.

Contact

Katie Frenette
Senior Marine Analyst
Legislative, Regulatory Policy and International Affairs
Marine Safety and Security
Transport Canada
Place de Ville, Tower C
330 Sparks Street, 11th floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N5
Telephone: 613-949-4627
Fax: 613-991-4818
Email: katie.frenette@tc.gc.ca

PROPOSED REGULATORY TEXT

Notice is given that the Governor in Council, pursuant to sections 120 and 207 (see footnote a) of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (see footnote b), proposes to make the annexed Regulations Amending the Small Vessel Regulations.

Interested persons may make representations with respect to the proposed Regulations within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to Katie Frenette, Senior Marine Analyst, Legislative, Regulatory, Policy and International Affairs, Marine Safety and Security, Department of Transport, Place de Ville, Tower C, 330 Sparks Street, 11th floor, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N5 (tel.: 613-949-4627; TTY: 1-888-675-6863; fax: 613-991-4818; email: katie.frenette@tc.gc.ca).

Ottawa, December 14, 2017

Jurica Čapkun
Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council

Regulations Amending the Small Vessel Regulations

Amendments

1 Section 106 of the Small Vessel Regulations (see footnote 5) is replaced by the following:

106 A pleasure craft licence is valid for a period of 10 years beginning on the day on which it is issued, transferred or renewed.

2 (1) Subitem 1(b) of the table to section 205 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

Item

Column 2

Visual Signals

1

(b) three pyrotechnic distress signals, not more than one of which is a smoke signal

(2) Subitem 2(b) of the table to section 205 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

Item

Column 2

Visual Signals

2

(b) six pyrotechnic distress signals, not more than two of which are smoke signals

3 The portion of item 2 of the table to section 210 of the Regulations in column 2 is replaced by the following:

Item

Column 2

Life-Saving Appliance

2

if the human-powered pleasure craft is more than 6 m in length, a watertight flashlight and six pyrotechnic distress signals, not more than two of which are smoke signals

4 Section 213 of the Regulations is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):

(3) For a pleasure craft more than 6 m in length, the number of pyrotechnic distress signals referred to in subitems 2(b) and 3(b) of the table to section 205 and in item 2 of the table to section 210 may be reduced up to a maximum of 50%, provided the number of smoke signals does not exceed 50% of the permitted number of smoke signals in those tables, if the pleasure craft is equipped with

5 Paragraph 218(b) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

6 Section 220 of the Regulations and the heading “Paddleboats, Watercycles, and Sealed-Hull, Sit-on-Top Kayaks” are replaced by the following:

Paddleboats, Watercycles, Stand-Up Paddleboards, Sealed-Hull Kayaks and Sit-on-Top Kayaks

220. If every person on board a paddleboat, a watercycle, a stand-up paddleboard, a sealed-hull kayak or a sit-on-top kayak is wearing a personal floatation device or lifejacket of an appropriate size, the paddleboat, watercycle, stand-up paddleboard or kayak is required to carry on board only the following safety equipment:

Coming into Force

7 These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.

[51-1-o]