50,000+ people demand Transport Canada stop allowing cruise ship dumping

April 12, 2023
With cruise ship season officially kicking off, Canada’s shipping laws continue to promote aquatic clearcutting

Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — As the Port of Vancouver welcomed its first cruise ship for the 2023 season, environmental advocates delivered a petition to the federal government calling for an end to cruise ship dumping. The petition – delivered electronically to Transport Minister Omar Alghabra – contains signatures from over 52,000 people demanding that the federal government stop legalizing dumping harmful cruise ship pollution into the ocean, which is overseen by Transport Canada. Transport Canada has yet to deliver its anticipated Interim Order which outlines environmental measures for cruise ships, and environmental advocates are demanding that Ottawa keep its promise and address shipping pollution as part of its commitment to protect the ocean.

“Canada’s lax ocean dumping laws encourage ships to save and dump their waste once the ships cross the Canadian maritime border because Ottawa has failed to put laws in place to stop them,” said Anna Barford, Canada Shipping Campaigner at Stand.earth. “This petition underscores overwhelming public support for protecting ocean waterways, and yet cruise ships continue to operate with impunity.”

Over the last decade, the cruise ship industry on Canada’s West Coast has exploded. In 2019, more than one million passengers and crew from 30 different cruise ships visited the Victoria cruise terminal during 256 ship calls on their way to and from Alaska. During this time, the B.C coast was subjected to 32 billion litres of dumping of sewage, greywater, and acidic fossil fuel waste from scrubbers. These waste streams contain a variety of pollutants, including fecal coliform, heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are extremely harmful to aquatic organisms and coastal ecosystems. Contaminants not only impact the health of the marine ecosystem, toxins can bioaccumulate to the food on our plates.

“Any ship can dump sewage directly into the ocean, contributing to the destruction of kilometers of critical habitat and food sources for endangered and threatened species,” continued Barford. “It’s time for the federal government to stop the cruise industry from treating the coastline as its personal toilet bowl.”

Last year, Transport Canada announced that it would improve measures on greywater and sewage pollution, a welcomed first step worth celebrating – as long as they actually become enforceable regulations before the start of the cruise season this spring. Over the summer, an Access to Information and Privacy Request obtained by National Observer revealed that Transport Canada planned to crack down on scrubbers in 2022, but instead let the cruise ship industry talk them out of it. Municipalities have since joined the chorus of voices calling for a ban on scrubbers, with a unanimous motion at the September 2022 Union of BC Municipalities convention.  Meanwhile, the cruise industry continues to present itself as an important economic driver behind Victoria’s tourism industry despite analysis revealing that economic benefits of non-cruise tourism dwarf those from cruise tourism.

Stand.earth is calling on Canada’s federal government to support coastal communities by instituting an ambitious ship pollution oversight program.


Media contacts: 

Ziona Eyob, Media Director – Canada, canadamedia@stand.earth, +1 604 757 7279 (Pacific Time)