The Oil Tanker Moratorium Act receives Royal Assent

News release

June 21, 2019               Ottawa

Canada is fortunate to have some of the most spectacular coastlines in the world, serving as a home to rich biodiversity and precious ecosystems. The Government of Canada, under the Oceans Protection Plan, is taking action to protect and preserve these marine ecosystems vulnerable to increased marine shipping and development.

Today, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, announced that the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act (Bill C-48) has received Royal Assent. This Act prohibits oil tankers carrying crude and persistent oils as cargo from stopping, loading or unloading at ports or marine installations in northern British Columbia. It will provide a high level of protection for the coastline around Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound.

The moratorium area extends from the Canada/United States border in the north, down to the point on British Columbia’s mainland adjacent to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, and also includes Haida Gwaii. To ensure northern communities can receive critical shipments of heating oils and other products, vessels carrying less than 12,500 metric tonnes of crude or persistent oil as cargo will continue to be permitted to stop, load and unload in the moratorium area.

The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways. This national plan is creating a world-leading marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while protecting our coastlines and clean water for generations to come. This work is being done in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, local stakeholders and coastal communities.


“Our Government has a plan to protect the environment. The Oil Tanker Moratorium Act formalizes a long-standing objective of protecting the pristine north coast of British Columbia. It conserves the unique ecological features of this region and responds to the wishes of coastal Indigenous communities. Thanks to the progress we are making on initiatives like this, Canada’s coasts and marine species are more protected than they have ever been.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada held approximately 75 engagement sessions to discuss improvements to marine safety and formalizing the oil tanker moratorium. The Government has consulted extensively with Indigenous groups, industry stakeholders and communities across Canada to inform development of the legislation.

  • The Act applies to crude oils defined by the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. It also applies to related oil products that are heavier and, when spilled, break up and dissipate slowly. A complete list of these persistent products included in the moratorium is outlined in a schedule to the Act.

  • This legislation complements the existing voluntary Tanker Exclusion Zone, which has been in place since 1985.

  • To demonstrate our commitment to this moratorium, the Act includes an enforcement regime. Penalties would match the scale of a violation and could reach up to $5 million.

  • The Act requires a one-time mandatory five-year review of the legislation that will enable the appropriate Committee of Parliament to study the full application of the Act.

  • Since the Oceans Protection Plan started in November 2016, over 50 initiatives have been announced in the areas of marine safety, research and ecosystem protection that span coast-to-coast-to-coast.

Associated links


Delphine Denis
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

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