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Transport Canada announces mandatory environmental measures for cruise ships

June 23, 2023

New mandatory environmental measures for cruise ships regarding grey and black water discharges have been introduced by Transport Canada.

"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 environment," the Honourable Omar Alghabra Minister of Transport, on June 23. We are committed to continuing to work with industry to implement these measures, keeping our coasts clean for Canadians to enjoy.”


Emanating from the drainage of sinks, washing machines, bathtubs and showers, a ship’s grey water from ships might contain laundry detergent, other cleaning products, food-related nutrients, cooking oils, as well as dangerous carcinogens and other pollutants. Black water is wastewater from toilets.


Cruise ships must now:

  • Prohibit the discharge of grey water and treated sewage within three nautical miles from shore where geographically possible throughout Canada.
  • Strengthen the treatment of grey water 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 complements existing regulations for Arctic waters under the Arctic Waters Pollution.)
  • Report compliance with these measures in Canadian waters upon request.

Announced last year as voluntary measures, they are now mandatory, and any cruise ship in non-compliance will be subject to a fine.