City of Vancouver City passes historic motion to fight acidic dumping from vessels

March 2, 2022

In a historic move, city councilors in Vancouver voted unanimously today to protect the British Columbia coastline from acidic wastewater dumping.

Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — In a historic move, city councilors in Vancouver voted unanimously today to protect the British Columbia coastline from acidic wastewater dumping.

In April 2021, the International Council on Clean Transportation revealed that Vancouver, B.C. is the fourth most impacted port in the world by scrubber discharges as a result of heavy cruise ship dumping.

“Vancouver’s motion celebrates the Port’s moves to ban scrubber use, while simultaneously recognizing that Transport Canada needs to act to stop the harmful dumping from vessels.” said Anna Barford, Canada Shipping Campaigner, “In no uncertain terms, scrubbers are a voluntary device that take an air pollution problem and turn it into ocean acidification and toxic contaminant burden, threatening the marine environment from plankton to Southern Resident Killer Whales to us who enjoy and depend on seafood.”

Around the world, oceans and coastal communities face major threats from a growing and unnecessary ship pollution wastestream from systems called scrubbers, and the risks posed to human health and marine ecosystems will only continue to increase unless pollution-generating technologies are banned. The U.S. also has the largest volume of scrubber wastewater discharge, and Florida Keys and parts of the Caribbean are facing some of the harshest impacts, also as a result of heavy cruise ship traffic. The incredibly vulnerable Great Barrier Reef is also faced with significant threats from scrubber dumping, as the hot, acidic wastewater compounds the impacts of climate change driven ocean acidification.

In July 2020, Canada’s West Coast was spared from exposure to billions of litres of pollution due to ramped up COVID-19 regulations, which was extended to February 2022. Canada’s shipping pollution regulations have been amended several times since they were adopted in 2012, but do not address scrubbers in a Canadian context. Of particular note is that Canada has not requested that any of its waters be designated by the International Maritime Organization as Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas, which is intended to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems from the impacts of international shipping.

“As of March 1, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is limiting discharges from these devices, and moving towards a strong leadership position of a complete ban,” said Barford. “However, their jurisdiction is limited, and both BC’s and Canada’s jurisdiction could be used to protect all of our territorial seas, Marine Protected Areas, and Fishing grounds, but unlike jurisdictions like California for example, we are letting pollution reign.”

As COVID-19 restrictions begin to loosen and travelers increase, reinvigorating the cruise ship industry post-COVID without including updated and strengthened regulations that protect our coastlines is indefensible. is calling on Canada’s federal government to follow in the Port of Vancouver’s footsteps and use this critical time to improve the laws and regulations that could protect our shellfish beds, critical habitats, and coastal communities.


Media contact: 

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