Minister of Transport announces mandatory environmental measures for cruise ships

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OTTAWA, ON, June 23, 2023 /CNW/ – Canadians deserve clean waters and a clean environment. Even though cruise ships are important to our domestic tourism sector, representing more than $4 billion annual input into the Canadian economy and directly and indirectly generating approximately 30,000 middle-class jobs per year, we need to ensure they are doing so in a more sustainable manner moving forward.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced mandatory environmental measures for cruise ships effective immediately. The measures address discharges of greywater (the drainage from sinks, laundry machines, bathtubs and showers, or dishwaters) and sewage (wastewater from bathroom and toilets):

These mandatory measures for the cruise ship industry include:

  • Prohibiting the discharge of greywater and treated sewage within three nautical miles from shore where geographically possible across Canada;
  • Strengthening the treatment of greywater together with sewage before it is discharged between three and twelve nautical miles from shore south of 60°N using an approved treatment device in non-Arctic waters. This will complement existing regulations for Arctic waters under the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act; and
  • Reporting compliance with these measures in Canadian waters upon request.

The Government of Canada had announced these measures last year for the cruise ship industry on a voluntary basis, but going forward, cruise ships will be subject to fines for non-compliance with these measures, up to the maximum permitted ($250,000) under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. These measures will better protect Canada’s oceans and the marine environment, and will support the work that is underway to conserve 25 percent of Canada’s oceans by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030. 


“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. The measures introduced today 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.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra

Minister of Transport 

“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. With the threat of climate change and ongoing human activities impacting oceans, protecting them now has never been more urgent.”  

The Honourable Joyce Murray  

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Quick facts 
  • In April 2022, Transport Canada announced new voluntary environmental measures for cruise ships. Today’s announcement makes those measures mandatory.
  • These measures are being implemented by an Interim Order, which has the same effect as a regulation, but allows for action to be taken immediately while the process for making the regulations mandatory for the longer term is being implemented.
  • An Interim Order has the same outcome as a regulation with respect to inspections and enforcement. Cruise ships will be required to comply with the measures outlined in the Interim Order, and if a vessel is found to be non-compliant during inspection, enforcement action will be taken as with regulations, including the administration of monetary penalties up to a maximum of $250,000.
  • These measures align, and in some cases exceed, international standards set out by the International Maritime Organization. Furthermore, the enhanced measures provide comparable protection to those in the United States that have implemented restrictions, including Alaska, California, and Washington State. 
  • Greywater can contain laundry detergent, cleaners, nutrients, solids, cooking oils, and grease, as well as hazardous carcinogens and other pollutants.
  • Sewage contains fecal coliforms, ammonia, chlorine, and can contain a variety of toxic pollutants, such as pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and organochlorides.
  • In addition to being subject to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, Arctic waters are also, unlike other Canadian waters, specifically subject to the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act (the Act), which already regulates the deposit or discharge of waste in Arctic waters.
Associated Links
  • Meeting Canada’s marine conservation targets

SOURCE Transport Canada

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