New international regulations on sulphur emissions may hurt Halifax’s multi-million dollar cruise ship industry.

The International Maritime Organization approved cutting the level of sulphur in fuels to one per cent in 2012, down from 4.5 per cent, effectively increasing the cost to operate within 200 nautical miles of Canadian and U.S. shores. The limit will increase to 0.1 per cent in 2015.

A British cruise ship operator has already indicated it may drop its North American line due to the regulations. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates the regulations will prevent up 14,000 deaths a year.


Last cruise season, 118 vessels brought over 227,000 visitors to dock in Halifax Harbour. The season broke a one-day record for visitors, with 11,000 descending on the waterfront on Oct. 8, 2009. The direct impact of cruise travel to the municipality is $50 million.

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