Activists call for stronger federal ocean protections in video message on Burrard Bridge

February 1, 2023
Just days ahead of IMPAC5, advocacy group projected a video message onto the Vancouver bridge calling on Ottawa to step up for marine life and coastal communities

Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — As Vancouver gears up to host an international marine protection conference, advocacy group projected a video message onto the Burrard Bridge today calling on Transport Canada to enact stronger regulations that protect marine life and coastal communities from ocean pollution.

Images of the projection will be uploaded here throughout the day and available for media use.

From February 3-9 2023, Vancouver will be hosting the 5th International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5), a global forum that brings together ocean conservation professionals, including policymakers and decision makers in Canada’s federal government. Cruise ships have long operated under lax federal oversight, treating B.C.’s coastlines like their personal toilet bowl.

“As host country for this global event on marine protection, Ottawa has a responsibility to show leadership on this issue by bringing in stronger oversight of ship ocean dumping,” said Anna Barford, Canada Shipping Campaigner with “Just weeks after Canada hosted a UN conference on biodiversity, IMPAC5 is an opportunity for Minister Alghabra’s office to lean into the ongoing momentum to protect all life on earth by doing more to protect marine life and coastal communities from ship pollution.”

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, ammonia, heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are harmful to aquatic organisms and coastal ecosystems.

Transport Canada has finally begun to acknowledge the problem of cruise ship dumping, an issue neighbours in the US have led in addressing for over a decade. Last April, 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 cruise season restarts in April. 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.

While the federal government lags on adopting mandatory regulations, local communities have been stepping up, including the Port of Prince Rupert and Vancouver who have taken steps to limit the use of scrubbers.

“Local leadership on tackling ocean pollution is stronger than ever,” said Barford. “Now it is up to Transport Canada to listen to the people who’ve been echoing their concerns about the impacts of shipping on coastal communities.” is calling on Canada’s federal government to support coastal communities by instituting an ambitious cruise ship pollution oversight program.


Media contact: 

Ziona Eyob, Media Director – Canada,, +1 604 757 7279 (Pacific Time)