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Transport Canada announces July 1 domestic ban on heavy fuel oil use for Arctic shipping

The Minister of Transport, Pablo Rodriguez, announced today the Government of Canada is moving forward with a domestic ban on the use and carriage for use as fuel of heavy fuel oils in Arctic waters that will be implemented on July 1, 2024.

The ban will be implemented through an Interim Order while the regulations are being amended. All double hulled ships will be exempted from the HFO ban until July 1, 2029, and ships involved in Arctic community resupply can apply for a waiver until July 1, 2026. 

Decarbonizing the marine sector is a key part of growing a clean net-zero economy. It requires sector-wide collaboration and innovation to reduce the impact of shipping emissions on surrounding communities and ecosystems, while supporting economic growth. Transport Canada is continuing to work with Arctic communities, Indigenous and Inuit groups, government, industry, and environmental stakeholders to protect the environment.

“Banning heavy fuel oils will protect the Arctic environment and northern communities from the disastrous effects of heavy fuel oil spills. Canada will always work with other countries, northern residents, and marine stakeholders to keep our environment protected for future generations,” declared Minister Rodriguez. 

 Quick facts

  • Heavy fuel oil is a term used to describe lower-cost fuels with a high viscosity and density that remains in the environment for a long time should a ship-source oil spill occur.
  • As heavy fuel oil does not evaporate as quickly as other fuels, it is more likely to be trapped in ice, which can make recovery very difficult.
  • Heavy fuel oil is generally used by bulk carriers serving mines, general cargo vessels, and tankers servicing communities.
  • Any waiver decisions that Transport Canada issues will made public through the Marine Technical Review Board publication process. This information will become available after the start of the ban
  • Transport Canada was a strong advocate for the ban on heavy fuel oil in the Arctic at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) through Oceans Protection Plan. The ban was adopted by the IMO in 2021.

(Canadian Coast Guard photo)