For Immediate Release - Sept. 26, 2017
K’JIPUKTUK/HALIFAX - A retired Environment Canada employee, and conservation and environmental law groups are calling for action from the federal government after Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) confirmed certain aquaculture activities result in a disposal at sea, likely violating the federal Disposal at Sea Regulations. Despite this confirmation the activities appear to be continuing without any enforcement action by ECCC.
Aquaculture companies use a variety of drugs, disinfectants and pesticides in response to sea lice and disease on salmon, issues that come along with farming fish in the open ocean. Chemical residues and pesticides are released into the ocean after use despite limitations under the Disposal at Sea Regulations and the serious risk of harm these chemicals pose to the marine environment and wildlife.
In February 2016, retired Environment Canada employee Bill Ernst launched a formal complaint about the practice to ECCC. In his complaint, Ernst identified specific companies but noted that an industry-wide investigation was needed.
After more than a year of reviewing the complaint and undertaking investigations of activities taking place in New Brunswick, officials from ECCC confirmed to Mr. Ernst on April 25, 2017 that they had a reasonable belief that the companies he identified were violating the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and that the department would take ‘appropriate’ enforcement action.
Yet, despite repeated requests from Ernst on how ECCC will enforce the Disposal at Sea Regulations, no clear enforcement action has happened. The aquaculture industry’s widespread practice of discharging chemicals into the marine environment continues.
Ernst, East Coast Environmental Law, West Coast Environmental Law Association, Conservation Council of New Brunswick, Ecology Action Centre, Living Oceans Society, and Friends of the Earth Canada are calling for an industry-wide investigation into the chemical dumping practice.
“I continue to be concerned that by its inaction, Minister McKenna is abdicating her responsibility to protect the marine environment and, in doing so, is giving the impression that the Government of Canada is willing to promote the aquaculture industry at the expense of other industries and environmental sustainability,” says Ernst.
Adds Lisa Mitchell, Executive Director with East Coast Environmental Law: “Aquaculture may be a valuable economic driver in the Atlantic Canadian economy, as are many other coastal industries, but to ensure these industries remain viable, the laws that protect the environment upon which they depend must be applied fairly and effectively. Private citizens should not bear the burden of enforcing those laws.”
“We commend Mr. Ernst for his efforts to ensure that the laws to protect our environment and coastal fisheries are being enforced,” says Matthew Abbott, Fundy Baykeeper with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. “It is disappointing that ECCC has not taken the opportunity provided by Mr. Ernst’s complaint to comprehensively investigate pesticide and other chemical use on aquaculture sites in Canadian waters. An industry-wide investigation is needed.”
The ECCC report regarding Mr. Ernst’s complaint can be viewed here.
For more information contact:
Environment Canada retiree
[email protected], 902-865-5771
Matthew Abbott, Fundy Baykeeper
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
Lisa Mitchell, Executive Director
East Coast Environmental Law Association
[email protected] 902-670-1113