COVID-19 Cruise Restrictions Prevent Over 30 Billion Litres of Pollution Dumping Into Canada's Pacific Waters

COVID-19 Cruise Restrictions Prevent Over 30 Billion Litres of Pollution Dumping Into Canada's Pacific Waters

Tuesday July 14, 2020

New investigation reveals that without long-term federal regulation, harmful cruise ship waste risks contaminating BC coastal communities and ecosystems.

Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — Canada’s West Coast was saved from exposure to billions of litres of pollution this cruise ship season due to ramped up COVID-19 regulations. 

This is according to a recent report, released by, which reveals that more than 30 billion litres of polluting sewage, greywater and scrubber washwater are dumped in Canadian coastal waters every year by the cruise industry. These waste streams contain a variety of pollutants, including fecal coliform, ammonia, heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, harmful to aquatic organisms and coastal ecosystems.

“If the Federal government is truly committed to “building back better” that means Transport Canada must act now to ensure stronger regulations so that cruise companies don’t continue to dump billions of litres of pollution on our coast.” - Anna Barford, Canadian Shipping Campaigner at

The cruise ship 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, at-risk populations of killer whales and sea otters—and the food sources and habitats on which they depend--were exposed to billions of litres of this harmful pollution. BC wild salmon, which is valued at $150-250 million per year and vital to the province’s economy, also face substantial risks.

“The oceans are the breadbasket of the Nuu-Chah-nulth people. The fact that the cruise ship industry is not regulated sufficiently by the federal government and so much sewage, grey water and wash water is dumped into the habitat of our sea resources is highly disturbing. We are working with the federal government on a marine protected area but why protect areas of the ocean when this kind of dumping is occurring elsewhere. We demand the Federal government put stronger regulations in place immediately to stop this dangerous pollution in the sensitive ecosystems that sustain our sea resources-our breadbasket. “ - Dr. Judith Sayers, President of the Nuu-Chah-nulth tribal council

In light of the inadequate response of the cruise ship industry to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s federal government placed a temporary ban on medium- and large-sized cruise ships in Canadian waters. In addition, passenger vessels carrying more than 12 people are prohibited from entering Canadian Arctic coastal waters. If cruise ships will be allowed to return to Canadian waters post-pandemic, the federal government must act immediately to update regulations to protect coastal communities and ecosystems.


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Ziona Eyob, Canadian Communications Manager,, +1 604 757 7279 (PST)

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