Protecting BC Coasts from Acidic Washwater Dumping


Whereas in order to mitigate sulphur air pollution from burning heavy oil, the maritime shipping industry employs exhaust gas cleaning systems scrubbers which result in a solution of concentrated acidic sulphates, metals, and other toxins, which cruise and cargo vessel traffic in Canadian jurisdiction annually discharge tens of millions tonnes of this acidic washwater directly into BCs coastal waters; And whereas ocean acidification is of major concern to coastal communities, particularly those coastal communities encouraging shellfish harvesting, aquaculture, tourism, and commercial and recreational fisheries. Worldwide, authorities have variously banned or are moving to limit the dumping of scrubber wash in coastal waters; And whereas on the Pacific Coast of North America, California and Washington have implemented stricter protections, and on March 1st, 2022 the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority will introduce phase one of three of new exhaust gas cleaning systems washwater discharge requirements in its jurisdiction after conclusive findings showed negative effects on aqualife and concentrations of metals that exceeded safe thresholds: Therefore be it resolved that UBCM request the BC government commit to advocate to the federal government on the issue of exhaust gas cleaning systems acidic wastewater discharge, as part of a comprehensive BC Coastal Marine Strategy; pushing for stronger environmental protections, in line with thriving cruise and cargo waters of our US neighbours, to include preventative measures to stop scrubber dumping from ships and require cleaner fuels be used.

Provincial Response

Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship The Province is concerned by several issues associated with commercial anchorages including invasive species transfer; mitigating negative effects on marine species and habitats; and marine pollution, including air, ballast water, garbage dumping, wastewater, oil and sewage. Provincial ministers have shared these concerns with their federal counterparts and confirmed that Transport Canada is working closely with the Port of Vancouver on large vessel pollution. BC continues to be in regular communication with the Government of Canada to discuss the issue of maritime shipping discharges. BCs diverse ocean habitats are critically important to the social, economic and cultural fabric of this province. We are partnering with First Nations on new strategies to steward wild salmon and the marine and inland ecosystems they rely on, including a Watershed Security Strategy and Fund, BCs first-ever Coastal Marine Strategy, and continued progress on a Wild Salmon Strategy

Convention Decision