Canada plans to support ban on heavy fuel oil in Arctic shipping: report

Canada has said that it will support a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil by ships using Arctic waters at the upcoming meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, a campaign group has claimed. Transport Canada declined to confirm the report.

Transport Canada officials announced during a teleconference call last Wednesday February 12th that they were committed to a heavy fuel oil (HFO) ban “with certain caveats” during a stakeholder engagement call ahead of the 7th Session of the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR7), which is taking place this week, according to people who participated in the call, cited by Radio Canada International.

A Transport Canada spokesperson said only that “the Government of Canada will publicly announce its position on this issue early next week, once Canada has declared its official position to the international membership of the IMO at the Sub-Committee meeting,”

Canada would be the seventh Arctic country to support the proposal that has been championed by environmental groups and the Inuit Circumpolar Council, although Russia remains a significant holdout.

The proposed ban on HFO would apply to all ships operating north of 60˚N latitude off the coasts of Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, as well as parts of Nunavik in Northern Quebec.

Internationally it will include waters off Alaska’s coast north of 60˚N latitude, almost the entire Arctic coast of Russia. with the exception of waters off Kola Peninsula, Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago, and all of Greenland.

The Canadian submission to PPR7, obtained by Radio Canada International, says that banning HFO in the Arctic would bring environmental benefits, but would come at a higher economic cost for northern communities dependent on the marine resupply from southern Canada.

Suzanne Paquin, president and CEO of Montreal-based shipping company NEAS Group Inc, which serves communities in Canada’s Eastern Arctic, said that “we are absolutely surprised, disappointed with the government for this. It’s unbelievable that they would think that an HFO ban is a priority in the Arctic… It shows how out of touch the federal government is with the Arctic.”