Heavy fuel oil is the main fuel used in international shipping. In Canada’s Arctic, this fuel is commonly used by certain vessels engaged in community resupply, bulk carriers serving mining projects and by some larger fishing vessels.
A heavy fuel oil spill in the Arctic would have grave consequences given the limited marine traffic and infrastructure, and the environment there. In February 2020, the Government of Canada announced support for a global ban on heavy fuel oil in the Arctic. In June 2021, the International Maritime Organization formally announced it will enter into force on July 1, 2024.
Balancing the environmental benefits of the ban with the economic realities of northern Indigenous and Inuit communities who use heavy fuel oil for resupply are a priority for the Government of Canada. Through the next phase of the Oceans Protection Plan, Transport Canada will continue to engage with Indigenous partners, industry, environmental non-governmental organizations, and other countries on the implementation of the ban.