In an effort to bolster Canada’s environmental standards, the country has banned cruise ships from dumping wastewater and sewage close to the shoreline. Measures governing discharge of the pollutants had previously been voluntary.
Government officials pointed out that the new laws are in line with or surpass International Maritime Organization standards, reported The Maritime Executive.
“Cruise ships are an important part of our economy and tourism sector, but they need to operate in a more sustainable manner,” said Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, as Reuters reported. According to Alghabra, cruise ships generate more than $3 billion a year for Canada’s economy.
“The measures introduced today are additional tools in our toolbox 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,” Alghabra added, as reported by Cruise Hive.
Canada said those who don’t comply could face fines as high as $190,000, Reuters reported.
The new regulations were originally introduced as voluntary measures in April of last year.
The measures cover the discharge of “greywater,” which includes the effluent from showers, sinks and washing machines, within a range of three nautical miles from Canada’s shoreline.
The rules also require ships moving through Canadian waters outside of the Arctic to improve their treatment of greywater and sewage jettisoned from three to 12 nautical miles out.
Environmental groups Stand.earth and West Coast Environmental Law called for additional rules governing the water used to clean exhaust cleaning systems — called scrubbers — that flush sulfur from the fuel of the enormous ships which is responsible for 90 percent of cruise ships’ liquid waste.
A spokesperson for Alghabra said the government and the shipping industry would work together to find a way to reduce or eliminate scrubber water effluent.
The new regulations could prove particularly difficult for older cruise ships, The Maritime Executive said. Newer lines are equipped with the state-of-the-art wastewater treatment systems.
Making the originally voluntary directives mandatory was partially a response to environmental groups petitioning the government with more than 50,000 signatures in April of 2023, reported Stand.earth.
“Canada’s lax ocean dumping laws encourage ships to save and dump their waste once the ships cross the Canadian maritime border because Ottawa has failed to put laws in place to stop them,” said Anna Barford, Canada Shipping Campaigner at Stand.earth, at the time, as Stand.earth reported. “It’s time for the federal government to stop the cruise industry from treating the coastline as its personal toilet bowl.”
The new rules are in keeping with Canada’s continued efforts to preserve 30 percent of its oceans by 2030.
“These measures apply to cruise ships transiting through Canada’s Marine Protected Areas and marine refuges, and making them mandatory underlines our commitment to safeguarding our oceans for future generations as we support economic opportunities,” said Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Joyce Murray, according to Cruise Hive.