IFAW: Canada enacts law to punish polluters and protect wildlife

Thursday, May 19, 2005
Ottawa, Canada
IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare -- www.ifaw.org) and Canada's largest conservation organizations today announced that the Canadian government has passed Bill C-15 - an amendment to the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act - which enacts stricter penalties and larger minimal fines for polluters which illegally dump bilge oil into Canadian waters. 
An IFAW-led coalition, including World Wildlife Fund, Nature Canada, Birds Studies Canada and the Sierra Club of Canada, campaigned in favor of the new legislation.  "The broad spectrum of support on this bill is something seldom seen in Canadian politics" said Kim Elmslie.  " IFAW would like to applaud Environment Minister Stephane Dion and conservative Environment Critic Bob Mills for their unwavering support of C-15."

Bill C-15 in its current form will allow the Canadian government to effectively enforce the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Canadian Environment Protection Act in Canada's coastal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It would not impose any new costs or regulatory changes for vessels and ship operators who follow the law. It will, however, hold shippers accountable who illegally dump bilge oil in Canadian waters by imposing a minimum fine of $100,000 for a summary conviction and $500,000 for an indictable offence, thus creating a stronger deterrent and ultimately saving thousands of seabirds, fish and other marine life from destruction.

"The passage of Bill C-15 is an important victory for all Canadians as it sends a strong message to those irresponsible ship operators who have illegally dumped millions of gallons of bilge oil into our waters, killing a minimum of 300,000 seabirds every year off the coast of Canada, that the government will make them pay for their crimes," says Kim Elmslie, Emergency Relief Campaigner for IFAW's Canadian Office.

Previously Canada's enforcement record against polluters has not been good.  As a result, unscrupulous ship operators took advantage of this and often avoided prosecution.  The highest fine to date in Canada is $170,000 CAD. On average, Canadian fines are approximately $40,000. In comparison, a recent record fine imposed in the United States for illegal oil dumping was $25 million.

"Oil spill prevention is the best way to keep seabirds from dying and with the passage of this bill, the waters off Newfoundland and all along the North Eastern Canadian coastal communities will be cleaner and safer for wildlife and people who depend on the sea for their livelihoods," said Kim Elmslie, Emergency Relief Campaigner for IFAW's Canadian Office.

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Kim Elmslie (IFAW, Canada)
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+1-613-878-4329