The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) is an independent administrative body of the Government of Canada. It performs two separate, but related functions. As a quasi-judicial tribunal, the Agency, informally or through formal adjudication, resolves a range of commercial and consumer transportation-related disputes, including accessibility issues for persons with disabilities. As an economic regulator, the Agency makes determinations and issues authorizations, licenses, and permits to transportation carriers under federal jurisdiction. In the maritime sector, the CTA handles complaints related to issues such as accessibility, tariffs, tolls, and fees, including the eligibility of shipping conferences for exemption from competition laws. In this regard, it conducts functions somewhat similar to the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). The CTA is also responsible for determining if Canadian ships are suitable and available to operate commercial services in Canadian waters, which may otherwise be provided by foreign or non-duty-paid ships upon request by a resident of Canada. In this regard, it conducts functions somewhat similar to the US Maritime Administration (MARAD), but on a much broader scale. In the United States, a non-coastwise qualified vessel may transport cargo from one US port to another only if there is there is no coastwise-qualified vessel available and if a waiver is in the interest of national defense or security. MARAD determines whether a suitable coastwise qualified vessel is available. Waivers, if necessary, are granted by the Departments of Defense or Homeland Security. MARAD may grant waivers to certain small passenger vessels, launch barges, anchor handling vessels, and spill response vessels the use of which would not normally be permissible in US waters. The CTA exercises broad authority to authorize use of otherwise ineligible vessels for any commercial service in Canadian waters for which an eligible and suitable Canadian vessel is not available. The Agency maintains a detailed and current data bank of Canadian-registered vessels. This data bank is used to provide notice of applications to use otherwise ineligible vessels for Canadian commercial service to the relevant portion of the Canadian industry. The Agency determines whether there are suitable Canadian ships available to carry out the activity described in the application. Any cost differential between use of an available Canadian ship and use of a foreign ship is not a factor in the determination.