In addition to ensuring safe marine navigation, Marine Communications and Traffic Services supports economic activities by optimizing traffic movement and facilitating industry ship/shore communications. All of these functions are derived from a regulatory framework based primarily on the Canada Shipping Act 2001 (CSA 2001), the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS), the IMO SAR Convention and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) - Radio Regulations.
Regulations established for vessel traffic services zones for vessel traffic practices and procedures within those zones are the: Vessel Traffic Services Zones Regulations, the Eastern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone Regulations, St. Clair and Detroit River Navigation Safety Regulations and the Arctic Shipping Pollution Prevention Regulations.
Canada is a signatory to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) which requires signatories to make provisions for safety radiocommunications services. MCTS provides the distress safety communications coordination and maritime safety information broadcasts in response to this international agreement.
Measures are in place with the United States of America, for vessel traffic services in contiguous waters. Such as, the Cooperative Vessel Traffic Services Agreement (CVTS) for the Juan de Fuca Strait, as well as, the Great Lakes Agreement (GLA) for promotion of safety on the Great Lakes by means of radio for the St. Clair, Detroit and St. Mary's rivers.
The Canadian Coast Guard College has been accredited with meeting or exceeding the standards set by the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) regarding the training of vessel traffic services (VTS) personnel.