The Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund (SOPF) was established under amendments to the former Canada Shipping Act (CSA) that came into force on April 24, 1989 and has been governed by Part 6 of the Marine Liability Act (MLA) Statutes of Canada, 2001, Chapter 6 since August 8, 2001. Effective January 2, 2010, the SOPF is governed by Part 6 of the MLA, as amended by the Statutes of Canada, 2010, Chapter 21.
The SOPF is a special account established in the accounts of Canada upon which interest is presently credited monthly by the Minister of Finance.
The SOPF succeeded the Maritime Pollution Claims Fund (MPCF), which had existed since 1973. In 1989, the accumulated amount of $149,618,850.24 in the MPCF was transferred to the SOPF.
A levy of 15 cents per tonne had been imposed from February 15, 1972, until September 1, 1976, during that period a total of $34,866,459.88 was collected and credited to the MPCF from 65 contributors. Payers into the MPCF included oil companies, power generating authorities, pulp and paper manufacturers, chemical plants and other heavy industries.
During the fiscal year commencing April 1, 2009, pursuant to the pertinent provisions of the MLA, the Minister of Transport has the statutory power to impose a levy of 46.29 cents per metric tonne of “contributing oil” imported into or shipped from a place in Canada in bulk as cargo on a ship. The levy is indexed annually to the consumer price index. No levy has been imposed since 1976.
The SOPF is liable to pay claims for oil pollution damage or anticipated damage at any place in Canada, or in Canadian waters including the exclusive economic zone of Canada, caused by the discharge of oil from a ship.
The SOPF pays established claims regarding oil spills from all classes of ships. It is not limited for purposes of compensation, to spills from sea-going tankers or persistent oil, as is the 1992 IOPC Fund.
The SOPF is also available to provide additional compensation (a third layer) in the event that funds under the 1992 Civil Liability Convention (CLC) and the 1992 IOPC Fund Convention, with respect to spills in Canada from oil tankers, are insufficient to meet all established claims for compensation .
During the fiscal year commencing April 1, 2009, the maximum liability of the SOPF is $154,392, 072 for all claims from one oil spill. This amount is indexed annually.