Canada prevents another 31 billion litres of ocean pollution
Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra is putting off the return of cruise ships to Canada, extending the reprieve from cruise pollution and our window of opportunity to bring in meaningful ocean protections.
According to a report released yesterday by Stand.earth and West Coast Environmental Law report, from California to Alaska, coastal jurisdictions are leading the way protecting Pacific waterways from cruise ship pollution—except Canada, where limits are 18 times less stringent and discharges are allowed anywhere. The suspension of the cruise season in 2020 prevented 31 billion litres of ocean pollution from being dumped off the B.C. coast.
The cruise industry is dominated by Carnival Corporation, a group that can hardly be trusted to manage its waste. Its cruise brands include Princess, Aida, and Holland America Line, and have been subject to criminal prosecution for a number of environmental misdeeds in other jurisdictions. Canada still has significant work to do, but with this latest effort from Minister Alghabra, there is now the time to do it. Canada has no monitoring schemes that could collect equivalent data or catch the polluters red-handed.
Unless Transport Canada steps in, there is a strong possibility that dozens of cruise ships will return in 2022 passing through BC waters on their way to and from Alaska, leaving in their wake tens of billions of litres of inadequately treated cruise ship pollution laden with fecal coliform, ammonia, heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons—pollutants that are harmful to human health, aquatic organisms and coastal ecosystems.
“Strengthening Canada’s abysmally weak ocean dumping laws will create local jobs, allow ecosystems to thrive, and protect the ocean economy,” said Anna Barford, Canada Shipping Campaigner with Stand.earth. “We are calling on Minister Alghabra to ensure that our regulations meet or beat those of our West Coast U.S. neighbours before cruise ships are permitted to return to Canadian waters. It is past time for Canada to stop being the cruise industry’s toilet bowl and start leading on protecting our coasts. ”
Reinvigorating the cruise ship industry post-COVID must include updated and strengthened regulations that protect our coastlines before cruise ships are allowed back. Stand.earth is calling on Canada’s federal government to use this critical time to improve the laws and regulations that protect coastal waters from massive amounts of cruise ship pollution.