The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has written to the government of Canada expressing concern about possible consequences of plans to bar all crude oil-carrying tankers from the waters of northern British Columbia.
The proposal to formalize a moratorium on crude tanker traffic was made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just a few weeks after his Liberal party won the national election in November 2015.
But movement on the measure has been slow with some cabinet ministers wavering amid talk of exemptions for some types of tankers.
Nevertheless, Trudeau has reiterated his belief that “crude oil supertankers have no place on BC’s north coast”.
Now ICS Secretary General Peter Hinchcliffe has written to Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau on the issue.
In the letter Hinchcliffe says the ICS and the global shipping industry appreciate the “importance of robust environmental protection measures” and he flags the great improvements that have been made in reducing oil spills.
However, the letter adds that it is important that Canada adhere to the United Nations Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) regarding “freedom of navigation and innocent passage through a Party’s territorial waters”. A compromise of that precedent could open the way for similar moratoriums including by individual US states, which would be to the detriment of world trade, the letter reads.
It goes on to suggest Canada could consider alternatives to a moratorium such as the establishment of marine transportation corridors to help lower the risk of maritime incidents.