Canada Releases Outcome of Environmental Measures for Cruise Ships

Canada releases the first results of its environmental measures implemented on cruise ships operating in its waters.

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Earlier this year, the Canadian Government implemented rules and regulations to ensure cruising could resume in Canada but do so safely. In March, the Canadians announced the vaccination mandates, and in April, environmental measures were implemented to combat marine pollution in the highly fragile Canadian waters. 

The Canadian government released the first results of those measures this week, showing how the vast majority of cruise ships indeed managed to comply with the new regulations. 

Canada Commits to Safe and Environmentally Responsible Cruising

Canada surprised many when it announced it would be closing off its marine borders to cruise ships during the pandemic. When the country opened up again, it implemented a set of rules geared towards ensuring the country could allow cruising, but only under the government’s rules, regulations, and protocols.

Canada Flag on Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Chanook Photography / Shutterstock

A public health framework was implemented on March 7, 2022, to safely restart cruise ship activity in Canadian waters, requiring passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

On April 4, new environmental measures were introduced to mitigate marine pollution with the return of cruise ships.

The Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport: “Cruise ships are an important part of our economy and tourism sector, and we must all work together to reduce their impact on the environment, and keep our waters safe and clean for everyone. These new environmental measures are a first step towards making shipping cleaner and protecting our waters from coast to coast.”

Ships are Complying

Under the new environmental measures, ships are prohibited from discharging greywater and sewage, treated or untreated, within three nautical miles (nm) from shore. Vessels are also prohibited from treating greywater together with sewage before it is discharged between 3 and 12 nm from shore to the greatest extent possible. 

Ships were also forced to implement sewage treatment between 3 and 12 nm from shore using an approved treatment device. The environmental measures exceed international standards and place Canada amongst the countries with the most stringent requirements for discharging grey water and sewage worldwide.

Vancouver, Canada
Photo Credit: Hannamariah / Shutterstock

Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard: “Protecting the oceans and their ecosystems is a top priority. These important measures, which exceed international standards, demonstrate how the Government of Canada is taking strong action to protect the oceans for the future. This charts a more sustainable course for the tourism industry.”

Since the rules were implemented, 47 cruise ships visited Canada, and 46 complied fully with all the rules and reporting. Only one vessel did not comply fully due to geographic and technical limitations.

It was impossible to install the necessary equipment and the vessel’s safety as greywater had to be discharged to ensure the vessel’s stability.

Canada will continue with the environmental measures during 2023, including strict inspections where inspectors board ships to ensure they follow the procedures laid out and additional measures, including measures that counter scrubber discharges that releases acidic wastewater. 

The cruise industry accounts for some $4 billion annually in income to the Canadian economy and directly and indirectly generates approximately 30,000 jobs. The industry is an integral part of Canada’s domestic tourism sector, yet will need to operate as cleanly as possible to be able to continue to operate. 

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