Stop playing ‘dirty pool’ in our marine protected areas

This summer, WWF-Canada launched our #NoDumping advocacy campaign. We’re calling on conservationists like you to hold the federal government to their unfulfilled promise to ban dumping by commercial shipping and cruise lines in the protected parts of our oceans.Take action

Lifeguard sitting with whistle
Still from our “Dirty Pool” video © WWF-Canada

To help bring home the danger of dumping in marine protected areas (MPAs), we created a must-watch video called Dirty Pool. In it, we invited kids to come jump in a pool being filled with brown liquid spewing out of a pipe. A friendly lifeguard explained, “Nothing to worry about. This is what’s allowed to happen every day in our most sensitive ocean areas.”

These kids knew better. Their completely unscripted responses, both brutally honest and funny, underline a simple fact about this complex issue: dumping and marine protection don’t mix.

Dangerous discharges from ships wreak environmental havoc. Dumping can cause ocean dead zones, worsen ocean acidification and introduce pathogens, invasive species, heavy metals, microplastics, fecal contaminants and other pollutants into marine protected areas.

Pipe dumping brown liquid into a swimming pool
Still from our “Dirty Pool” video © WWF-Canada

While the dirty water in our pool didn’t actually come from a ship, these kids were not impressed with our lifeguard’s nonchalant attitude. The Government of Canada needs to get serious about the chemicals, plastic bits, oily discharge and contaminated water that are still threatening wildlife in marine protected areas.

Canada’s marine protected areas should be places where wildlife can recover from the consequences of human activity. Canada’s ocean conservation efforts should not be measured only by lines on a map, but also by whether the standards we create within them are strong enough to deliver on actual protection.

WWF-Canada is asking the federal government to finally develop a comprehensive definition of dumping that prohibits the release of all harmful substances from cruise ships and commercial vessels in these ecologically sensitive areas.

Take action

As long as the federal government leaves “no dumping” up to interpretation, we risk regulations that are too weak to actually help wildlife. And, until we have a clear definition, ships will continue to dump harmful substances in our “protected” waters.

Unlike the kids in our Dirty Pool swimming “experiment,” whales, seabirds, fish and other at-risk species don’t have any choice but to swim in toxic washwater from heavy fuel oil exhaust cleaning systems and contaminated grey water. They live in it.

You can be a (wild)lifeguard by helping protect our oceans with just one click. Join the over 2000 Canadians who have already sent an email to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and their federal MP demanding that “no dumping” in MPAs actually means no to all dumping.

Would you swim in our Dirty Pool? Share your reaction to our post on Twitter.