Curbing plastic pollution in our oceans: Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard take action 

News release

February 8, 2019

Ottawa, Ontario - Plastic pollution is harming our oceans, lakes and rivers. With more than eight million metric tonnes of plastic ending up in the oceans each year, it is important for all of us – governments, organizations, communities and every individual to take action.

The Government of Canada is committed to finding real solutions. That is why it was a focal point during Canada’s G7 Presidency last year which resulted in the development of an international Ocean Plastics Charter and Canada signing onto the Global Ghost Gear Initiative.

Domestically, the Government of Canada is taking practical steps, consistent with the waste management elements of the Greening Government Strategy, to better manage the use and disposal of plastics in its own operations. The government’s steps to reduce plastic waste include new commitments to:

  • set explicit targets for diverting plastic waste;
  • eliminate the unnecessary use of single-use plastics in government operations; and
  • leverage procurement practices to focus on sustainable plastic products.

Building on this leadership, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced at an employee town hall today, a new policy to curb the purchase and use of single-use plastics. Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard have established a new policy to reduce the purchase and use of single-use plastics and issued an associated directive to restrict their purchase and use for federal government meetings, events and conferences.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada including the Canadian Coast Guard is the first federal department to implement this type of internal policy in support of the Government of Canada’s Greening Government Strategy and Actions on Plastic Waste in Federal Operations, which commit the government to divert at least 75% of all non-hazardous operational waste, including plastic, by 2030.

More than 2,400 Fisheries and Oceans and Coast Guard employees pledged to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics in both their personal and professional lives as part of a departmentally-led Goodbye Plastic initiative.


“Each and every one of us has a role to play in tackling plastic pollution and protecting our environment. The passionate and hardworking employees of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard are doing their part to reduce plastic that is polluting our oceans – a cause I hope all Canadians can participate and take pride in. Congratulations!"

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

"Taking action to protect our environment and strengthen the economy is a priority for Canada, and leadership starts at home. That’s why we’re working to make government operations greener. Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard is adding to that effort by purchasing, using, and disposing of plastic goods in a way that supports sustainable development and protects the environment.”

The Honourable Jane Philpott
President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government

“With the longest coastline in the world, and thousands of communities and wildlife that depend on our oceans, lakes and rivers, we need to beat plastic pollution together with actions big and small. By reducing, reusing and recycling plastic pollution, we can protect our nature, create thousands of new jobs, grow our economy and cut our emissions.”

The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada

Quick facts

  • Each year, globally, about 8 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the oceans. This is like dumping the content of one garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute.

  • Plastic waste never actually goes away: it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, which eventually end up in our oceans and other waterways, where they endanger marine life, pollute ecosystems, and litter our beaches.

Associated links


Jocelyn Lubczuk
Press Secretary 
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada 

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