05/08/2013 01:28 EDT | Updated 07/08/2013 05:12 EDT

Canada tightens shipping emission standards

Canada’s government is adjusting its greenhouse gas standards for ships in Canadian waters, a move that matches efforts in the United States.

Federal Minister of Transport Denis Lebel said in Halifax on Wednesday the regulatory changes are expected to reduce greenhouse gases by 11 tonnes a year by 2025.

“The changes we are announcing today will help make our oceans and lakes cleaner by reducing ship emissions,” Lebel said in a news release.

“Since vessels from Canada and the United States routinely travel in both countries’ waters, aligning our regulations is the logical thing to do."

The new regulations include adopting the North American Emission Control Area (ECA) agreement the government said has stricter emission standards than are required globally.

The ECA also applies to the U.S. and France, which controls the islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon off the coast of Newfoundland.

'No pollution'

The release said the new standards will reduce sulphur oxide emissions from ships by 96 per cent by 2020 and nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 per cent over the same time frame.

There are also new energy efficiency standards for ships built after June 30 of this year which would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 per cent over the next 12 years, according to the release.

These measures to reduce sulphur oxide, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide emissions apply to ships of 400 gross tonnage (the measurement of how much cargo a ship can hold) or higher, except ones that only travel in Canadian waters.

"We can have measures, but first of all a better situation is no pollution,” Lebel said during the news conference.

“If we can help people [not] make pollution that will be easier. For sure, we will always have pollution and polluters will have to pay."

New rules for kitchen, laundry discharge

When it comes to ships in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence waterways, the release said companies will be judged on their fleet as a whole to start, gradually tightening regulations until individual vessels start being tested in 2020.

Ships now aren’t allowed to discharge “grey water” from sinks, laundry rooms and kitchens if it contains solids or causes a sheen on the water, except in the Arctic where standards are different.

Ships with more than 500 passengers must now treat that grey water and dump it at least three nautical miles from shore.

The federal government has been announcing changes to emissions standards for many industries.

A few hours before Lebel’s announcement, a Canadian navy vessel spilled an undetermined amount of fuel into Halifax harbour, causing a “powerful smell of fuel on the water.”