COVID Pandemic Results in a Cleaner Coast
Canada’s West Coast was saved from exposure to billions of litres of pollution this cruise ship season due to ramped up COVID-19 regulations. A new Stand.earth investigation reveals that without year-round federal regulation, harmful cruise ship waste risks contaminating BC coastal communities and ecosystems.
The cruise ship 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. Unfortunately, Canada’s federal government does not adequately monitor or regulate marine pollution generated and dishcharged by cruise ships, resulting in more than 32 billion litres of potentially dangerous sewage, greywater and washwater dumped in BC coastal waters every year. These waste streams contain a variety of pollutants, including fecal coliform, ammonia, heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, harmful to aquatic organisms and coastal ecosystems.
For one season, B.C.’s coastal waters—and the at-risk populations of killer whales and sea otters, and the salmon, herring, and clam food sources and habitats on which they depend—were given a reprieve from billions of litres of harmful pollution.
Now it’s time to make these changes permanent. If we are going to allow cruise ships to return to Canadian waters in the post-pandemic era, the Government of Canada must act now to update our regulations to protect our coasts.