From the comfort of cruise ships, a typical trip to Alaska offers magnificent views of glaciers and untamed national parks, and visits to quaint seaside towns. For years, these draws have made cruises to Alaska the most booked US holiday.
But the journey to those pristine areas, which involves sailing along Canada’s west coast for two or three days, is leaving behind a trail of toxic waste, including within marine protected areas (MPAs), according to new research.
More than 31bn litres (8.5bn US gallons) a year of pollution is estimated to be discharged off the west coast of Canada by cruise ships on their way to and from Alaska, according to a report by the environmental organisations Stand.earth and West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL).
“There’s this perverse incentive to treat Canada like a toilet bowl,” says Anna Barford, Canada shipping campaigner at Stand.earth. “They’re just using us like a highway and tossing stuff left, right and centre.”