The Government of Canada supports a global ban on heavy fuel oil in the Arctic

News release

February 18, 2020        Ottawa        Transport Canada and Global Affairs Canada

The Government of Canada takes the protection of the Arctic very seriously, and continues to work with Member States at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to find ways to reduce the environmental impacts of increased marine shipping in the North. Balancing environmental needs and economic impacts are a priority for the Government of Canada.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, announced the Government of Canada’s support for a ban on heavy fuel oil in Arctic waters. Ministers also announced they will be seeking a phased-in approach to the ban as Canada discusses with IMO countries ways to help balance the environmental benefits with the economic realities of northern, Indigenous and Inuit communities. 

Transport Canada has conducted a domestic impact assessment of the proposed heavy fuel oil ban in the Arctic, based on the methodology agreed upon at an IMO committee meeting in February 2019. The impact assessment is available on the Let’s talk marine fuel in the Arctic webpage. Visitors to this website are invited to have their say on how Canada can best reduce the environmental, economic and social risks associated with the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic.

Transport Canada held, and continues to hold, consultations with Indigenous and Inuit communities, industry, environmental non-governmental organizations, provincial/territorial governments and other federal government departments about the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic.


“Canada is proud to play a leadership role at the International Maritime Organization by supporting this ban and is committed to continue working with other countries, northern residents and marine stakeholders to help reduce economic impacts on northern communities.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau 
Minister of Transport

“As an active member of the International Maritime Organization and consistent with Canada’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, we are supporting international cooperation to manage the potential environmental risks associated with Arctic shipping while ensuring support for Canada’s Northern communities.”

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne 
Minister of Foreign affairs

Quick facts

  • Communities in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, part of northern Quebec, Labrador, and part of Northern Manitoba could either be directly or indirectly affected by a heavy fuel oil ban in the Arctic. The majority of the population in these communities are Indigenous, primarily Inuit, Innu, and Cree.

  • Heavy fuel oil is a generic 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.

  • The Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) Sub-Committee of the IMO is meeting February17- 21, 20 in London, England.

Associated links


Amy Butcher
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

Syrine Khoury
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada

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