This year, Victoria, BC’s Ogden Point – Canada’s busiest port of call – had the best overall air quality readings over a full cruise season since monitoring began in 2009.
During 2015 there was not a single recorded exceedance of any known local, national or international air emission standard related to cruise ships as measured by the BC Ministry of Environment’s air monitoring station located in James Bay.
This year, Victoria welcomed 227 ship calls bringing more than 533,000 passengers and 206,000 crew to the region - a record year. Overall passenger count was up 15% versus 2014 and the overall economic impact to Greater Victoria is close to $100 million dollars annually (Business Research and Economic Advisors (BREA) The Economic Contribution of Cruise Tourism in Victoria, 2012).
The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) has partnered with the BC Ministry of Environment, Island Health (formerly Vancouver Island Health Authority), and the James Bay Neighborhood Association since 2011 to provide air quality monitoring for SO2 in the James Bay area and over this period, GVHA has provided over $63,000 to maintain the BC Ministry of Environment air monitoring station. In 2015, no 24-hour period exceeded Island Health, CRD, BC, Canada, World Health Organization 24-hour average guidelines and no 1-hour period exceeded the BC, California, Canada, USA EPA, or EU 1-hour average guidelines.
On Jan. 1, 2015, new international maritime regulations (for ships operating within the United Nations' North American Emission Control Area) came into effect, which legally requires further reductions of ship emissions. These regulations state that all ships operating in the North American Emission Control Area must use diesel fuel that has a 0.1% sulphur limit. Some cruise lines have been granted exemptions by the Flag State of the ship (in negotiation with US & Canada) by committing to the installation of scrubbers (exhaust gas cleaning technology) that will reduce emissions beyond those achievable with the use of diesel fuel that has a 0.1% Sulphur limit.
With the introduction of scrubber technology, Greater Victoria has also economically benefited as cruise lines have chosen the Esquimalt Graving Docks to dry-dock ships and have scrubbers installed along with other major work. Earlier this year the Crown Princess was in dry-dock to have scrubbers installed and in December, the Ruby Princess is scheduled to have major work done including the installation of scrubbers. Both of these ships make Victoria a port of call during the cruise season.
BC’s wild coast is a key reason why the cruise lines choose to sail in our waters and visit Victoria. None take our pristine environment for granted and have introduced several measures to reduce their footprint. In addition to reducing air emissions, cruise lines have taken steps to improve their waste management technology and energy efficiency. Over the last decade, the cruise lines have invested more than $1 billion dollars in technologies that reduce their environmental foot print in the harbours and ports that welcome them. The GVHA will continue to work with them to ensure we protect our environment and increase the positive social and economic impacts the cruise industry brings to Victoria.