Federal Ocean Protections Plan is a far cry from a win for Canada’s coastline

Tuesday July 26, 2022

Ottawa’s latest announcement is yet another missed opportunity to prevent ships from treating our coastline like their personal toilet bowl

Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — Canada’s federal government unveiled a new installment in its Oceans Protection Plan (OPP) today, but it’s a far cry from a policy win for coastal communities across the country. 

Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra, alongside Mike Kelloway, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and Member of Parliament for Cape Breton, unveiled the multi-year and multi-billion dollar investment from the Federal Government but it continues to miss opportunities such as addressing dumping in Canada’s protected ocean areas.

“Transport Canada claims that the OPP is a Canadian success story, but a toilet bowl and ocean acidification on tap are hardly successful policy choices for the coast, said Anna Barford, Canada Shipping Campaigner for Stand.earth. “Our neighbours in Puget Sound, the State of Alaska and California have all brought in policy solutions to protect the coast, so why is Canada legalizing pollution instead of preventing it?”

Over the last decade, the cruise ship industry off the West Coast of Canada has exploded. 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. These waste streams contain a variety of pollutants that contribute to ocean acidification and increase greenhouse gases trapped in the atmosphere. In spite of this, the OPP fails to close loopholes that match regulations imposed by US neighbours, and it doesn’t bring in pollution prevention measures already required in other jurisdictions.

“Oceans and coastal communities face major threats from growing and unnecessary ship pollution,” said Barford. “We have the solutions at our fingertips, we just need Transport Canada to implement them.” 

In April, Stand.earth delivered a petition signed by over 50,000 people demanding that Ottawa stop cruise ship dumping, underscoring the overwhelming public support for protecting Canada’s ocean waterways. Stand.earth continues to call on Ottawa to support coastal communities meaningfully by instituting an ambitious shipping pollution oversight program.


Media contact: 

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