Canada Debuts New Marine Enviro Law

Monday, May 10, 2004
The Honourable David Anderson, Minister of the Environment tabled legislation in the House of Commons that will allow Canada to more forcefully protect its marine environments from polluters.

“Marine waters off Canada’s coasts are among the world’s richest in terms of seabird life, and we are determined to better protect them”, said Minister Anderson. “The legislation we are tabling today will raise fines to $1 million. It will also make the ships’ officers accountable for their actions and help harmonize our approach with that of the United States.”

An Act to amend the Migratory Birds Convention Act (1994), and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999) will more effectively address enforcement issues in cases of marine pollution. The legislation will also provide clarity for enforcement officials, as well as owners and operators of vessels in waters under Canadian jurisdiction, including the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

“Amending these essential pieces of environmental legislation will complement the Canada Shipping Act (2001) and allow for more cooperative enforcement actions,” said Minister Anderson. “We are providing the judicial system with the tools to prosecute offenders and to enable fines that appropriately reflect the damages caused to the environment.”

Environment Canada’s research shows that more than 300,000 sea birds are being killed each year off the coast of Atlantic Canada, by the illegal discharge of oily bilge waste from passing ships.

Within the Government of Canada, Environment Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and the marine environment through the Migratory Birds Convention Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and Section 36 of the Fisheries Act; Transport Canada is responsible for regulating ship safety and pollution prevention under the Canada Shipping Act and also marine surveillance; and Fisheries and Oceans – Coast Guard is responsible for response to marine pollution. The Federal Department of Justice provides expert legal advice and prosecution services.

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