North Coast B.C. port steps up for marine life, proposes ban on polluting scrubbers in their harbour

January 9, 2023
As the Port of Prince Rupert is set to usher in important measures towards protecting the Pacific coastline, all eyes are on Transport Canada to now do their part

Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — The Port of Prince Rupert is proposing a ban on polluting scrubbers in its harbour, pending a 30 day comment period that ends on February 5th, 2023.

The Port of Prince Rupert, situated in the coastal community on the north coast of British Columbia, proposed changes that include banning acid dumping machines (called open-loop scrubbers). The Port of Prince Rupert will be joining the Ports of Vancouver and Seattle who have both committed to limiting the use of scrubbers.

“The Port of Prince Rupert is joining in a chorus of local leaders by proposing a ban on acid dumping machines and installing shore power,” said Anna Barford, Canada Shipping Campaigner. “People are increasingly echoing their concerns about the impacts of shipping on coastal communities and the oceans, and acidic dumping from scrubbers is an important issue not to fall behind on.“

Oceans are experiencing impacts from both the climate and biodiversity crisis. Preventing pollution, especially acidic pollution, is critical for the ocean, and all the wildlife and coastal communities that depend on it. B.C. coastal communities were previously 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 that contribute to ocean acidification and increase greenhouse gases trapped in the atmosphere.

Acidic dumping from scrubbers is laden with toxins and carcinogens, and has been shown to kill plankton, the basis for the marine foodweb. Ocean dumping from vessels comes primarily from cruise ships, and the industry on Canada’s West Coast has exploded over the last decade. 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. 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.

“This proposed change is a great step, and local communities have long done their part to protect coastlines within their means,” said Barford. “Now it is up to Transport Canada to follow California’s example and ban all scrubbers off of all coasts, instead of lining the pockets of cruise ship executives and depending on local leadership to do the heavy lifting.” continues to call on Ottawa to support coastal communities meaningfully and follow their lead by instituting an ambitious shipping pollution oversight program.


Media contact: 

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