Assessing and Valuing Damage to the Marine Environment in Accordance with the Polluter Pays Principle for the Practical Purpose of Compensation after Ship-Source Oil Spills
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The objective of this study is to evaluate how marine environmental damage caused by a ship-source oil spill is assessed intergovernmentally and nationally for the practical purposes of determining compensation. A comparative analysis of five case studies involving environmental damages caused by specific ship-source oil pollution incidents was performed. In completing the comparative analysis, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) method was applied to each case study, which then informed a gap analysis resulting in recommendations for improving Canada’s existing regime. The results of the comparative case study analysis supported the conclusion that assessing and pricing marine environmental damage is a challenging practice and different jurisdictions have developed distinct approaches. Results indicated that further scientific study, including baseline monitoring of ecosystem services and their projected monetary values, are required in order to advance the practice of assessment both internationally and domestically. Results also revealed significant gaps in Canada’s current regime in terms of comprehensively assessing marine ecosystem goods, services and functions to enable appropriate compensation. The gaps identified within Canada’s regime include having no assessment guidelines in place for polluters and having no government agency appointed the task of performing consistent environmental damage assessment. Recommendations for addressing these gaps and strengthening Canada’s regime include enforcing guidelines for assessment of environmental damage after pollution incidents and implementing mandatory cooperative assessment between the polluter and the government. Canada’s existing regime for assessing damage to marine environment for the practical purpose of compensation is under-developed, and could be improved by incorporating measures that would more comprehensively assess ecosystem goods, services, and functions.