Ottawa Imposes New Environmental Rules - with Fines - for Cruise Ships in Canadian Waters

Cruise ship by Canada Place in Vancouver, BC
Cruise ship by Canada Place in Vancouver, BC.

On 23JUN, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced new environmental regulations for cruise ships. The rules, which will take effect immediately, target the discharge of greywater and sewage from cruise ships.

While the federal government initially announced these measures on a voluntary basis last year, the new regulations enforce fines for non-compliance. Cruise ships that fail to adhere to the regulations could face penalties up to the maximum permitted amount of CAD $250,000.

Under the new mandatory measures, cruise ships are prohibited from discharging greywater and treated sewage within three nautical miles from the shore, wherever feasible across Canada. Furthermore, the treatment of greywater and sewage is now required to be strengthened before discharge between three and twelve nautical miles from shore.

Cruise ships will also be required to report compliance with these measures when operating in Canadian waters upon request.

While making the announcement via a media release, the ministry acknowledged the significant role cruise tourism plays in Canada, contributing over $4 billion annually to the economy and supporting approximately 30,000 jobs.

“Cruise ships are an important part of our economy and tourism sector, but they need to operate in a more sustainable manner to protect our waters and our environment," said Algahbra, adding that the new rules "are additional tools in our tool box to keep them accountable. We are committed to continuing to work with industry to implement these measures, keeping our coasts clean for Canadians to enjoy.”

In statements, green groups West Coast Environmental Law and welcomed the announcement. However, they insist more regulation is needed, including stricter management of water used to clean exhaust gas cleaning systems that remove sulfur from ships' fuel - or 'scrubber water' — which makes up more than 90 per cent of cruise ships' liquid waste, reports Reuters.

A Transport Ministry spokesperson responded that it would work with the shipping industry to find ways to reduce or eliminate discharge of scrubber water.

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