The Role of the Fund
The Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund (SOPF), a special purpose account in the accounts of Canada, is established under Part 7 of the Marine Liability Act (the Act) to facilitate the indemnification of claims for ship-source pollution in Canadian waters while protecting the taxpayer. Canada’s compensation regime is based on the fundamental principle that the shipowner is primarily liable for oil pollution damage caused by the ship — that is, the polluter pays principle.
A fund of last resort or a fund of first resort — at the election of the claimant — Canada’s national SOPF covers all classes of ships that discharge persistent and non-persistent oil, including oil spills from unknown sources which are commonly referred to as “mystery spills”. The SOPF is notably available to pay compensation for reasonable claims for oil pollution response costs, or preventive measures taken to minimize damage caused by the discharge – or the risk of a discharge – of oil from any class of ship in Canadian waters. Any occurrence caused by an oil tanker carrying persistent oil as cargo would also be covered under the international regime (https://www.iopcfunds.org/).