What are the different types of in-water cleaning?

    The voluntary guidance proposes criteria for two different categories of cleaning, depending on the technology employed:

    • In-water cleaning without capture: technology removes biofouling from the vessel without capturing the biofouling waste; 
    • In-water cleaning with capture: in addition to removing biofouling from the vessel, the technology captures the biofouling waste, transfers it to the surface, filters the waste, and kills the remaining organisms prior to discharge.


    Is in-water cleaning regulated in Canada?

    No, but many Canadian ports have their own practices and procedures for in-water cleaning.

    Although it’s not regulated by Transport Canada, in-water cleaning must follow all federal, provincial or territorial, and municipal laws and by-laws, like the Fisheries Act and Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

    Why is Transport Canada proposing this voluntary guidance?

    The Voluntary Guidance for Relevant Authorities on In-Water Cleaning of Vessels promotes best practices that will help lower the risks of releasing invasive species and contaminants into the marine environment while conducting this activity. A clean hull is desirable since it can also improve vessel fuel efficiency, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce underwater noise.

    Transport Canada has heard from stakeholders, including ports and the shipping industry, that there’s confusion around whether or not in-water cleaning is allowed in Canadian waters. To deal with this confusion, promote best practices, and facilitate a more consistent approach to in-water cleaning across Canada, Transport Canada is collaborating with stakeholders to develop the voluntary guidance

    Will the voluntary guidance apply to pleasure crafts?

    The proposed voluntary guidance applies to all vessels, including pleasure crafts that are more than 24 metres long.

    Will I be required to follow the voluntary guidance

    Following the guidance is voluntary. However, relevant authorities can still adopt practices and procedures that either allow or ban in-water cleaning within their waters.

    Does Transport Canada have any other best practices for managing biofouling?

    We encourage vessel owners and operators to use and read the following document from the International Maritime Organization for more information and best practices:

    2011 Guidelines for the control and management of ship’s biofouling to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species

    Is there an international standard for in-water cleaning?

    There is currently no international standard for in-water cleaning. However, the proposed voluntary guidance is in line with the broad recommendations provided in the International Maritime Organization’s 2011 Guidelines for the control and management of ships’ biofouling to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species.

    Several countries and industry bodies have developed their own in-water cleaning standards and guidelines. Although there are some similarities between the proposed voluntary guidance and these standards, the proposed voluntary guidance was developed for the Canadian context and if published should take precedence in Canadian waters.