Elected leaders in B.C. pass historic motion urging governments to do more on ocean acidic dumping

Friday May 06, 2022

Local officials ramp up protection efforts as coastal communities sound the alarm on the impacts of shipping on marine ecosystems

Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — A group of local leaders representing British Columbia’s Lower Mainland are escalating the urgency to protect coastal communities, voting unanimously on a motion that would prompt B.C’s municipalities to press provincial leaders for more action on acidic ocean dumping.

The Lower Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA) unanimously passed a resolution yesterday to be considered at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention in September. Resolution R9 highlights the threat that ocean acidification entails to coastal communities, and jurisdictions already taking action against acidic dumping.

”Ocean acidification is a major threat to coastal communities and must be taken seriously, particularly in this case where preventative solutions are readily available,” said Anna Barford, Canada Shipping Campaigner. “While this is an interim step; the unanimous vote makes this a giant leap towards meaningful protections, regional sustainability goals, and a thriving ocean economy with good jobs for all.” 

If passed at UBCM, the resolution will call on the B.C. government to commit to advocate on the issue of acidic dumping from exhaust gas cleaning systems (sometimes called scrubbers), as part of a comprehensive B.C. Coastal Marine Strategy. 

Ocean dumping from vessels comes primarily from cruise ships, and the industry on Canada’s West Coast has exploded over the last decade. In 2019, more than one million passengers and crew from 30 different cruise ships visited the Victoria cruise terminal during 256 ship calls on their way to and from Alaska. During this time, the B.C coast was subjected to 32 billion litres of dumping of sewage, greywater, and acidic fossil fuel waste from scrubbers. Transport Canada has announced voluntary measures to deal with 2 billion litres of sewage and greywater – however they are leaving oceans and coastal communities to face major threats from the remaining 30 billion (more than 90 per cent) of waste streams. Acidic dumping from scrubbers is laden with toxins and carcinogens, and has been shown to kill plankton, the basis for the marine foodweb. 

“Thrilled that our motion “Protecting B.C. Coasts from Acidic Washwater Dumping” passed with unanimous support at the Lower Mainland Local Government Association,” said Pete Fry, Vancouver City Councillor. “A solid endorsement showing how much elected leaders across our region from Pemberton to Hope and everywhere in between care about the health of the Salish Sea and our coastal waters.”

The approval of this motion comes on the heels of an ongoing chorus of people echoing their concerns about the impacts of shipping on coastal communities. Last week, Stand.earth delivered a petition signed by over 50,000 people to Ministers Alghabra, Murray, and Guilbeault calling on the federal government to end cruise ship dumping. 

“The momentum is clear. As the Stand community grows, we are turning the tide against harmful dumping and can celebrate every step along the way to better protections for coastal waters and communities,” said Barford.

Stand.earth is calling for better protections for the ocean including no discharge zones in protected areas, cleaner fuel mandates that prevent acidic dumping, and strict treatment requirements in line with our immediate neighbours and protection of endangered species like the Southern Resident Killer Whales.

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Media contact: 

Ziona Eyob, Media Director - Canada, canadamedia@stand.earth, +1 604 757 7279 (Pacific Time)