OTTAWA -- November 30 -- Hundreds of dead and dying oiled birds are washing up on the beaches of Newfoundland, but the oil in their feathers is not from the Terra Nova spill, indicating some ships crews are dumping their bilge oil near the spill to cover up their illegal actions.
This week, legislators will debate the passage of Bill C-15, which seeks tougher penalties for the crew of ships who illegally dispose of their oil at sea instead of in port. IFAW will be on the beaches, working to rescue oiled seabirds, and on Parliament Hill, working with parliamentarians.
IFAW is proposing an amendment to the bill that stipulates a minimum fine of $500,000 for those caught illegally dumping oil at sea. In Canada, $125,000 is the highest fine ever dealt for this offense, while the U.S. and the U.K. have seen fines of $509,000USD and $411,000GBP, respectively.
"Transport Canada must close all shipping lanes in the area and launch an immediate investigation into which ship took advantage of the Terra Nova oil spill," Elmslie said. "If they work quickly and use tools like satellite imagery, they will be able to catch the culprit."
Deliberate dumping is the illegal disposal of bilge oil at sea instead of at port to save time and money. Ship crews know the Canadian coastline is long, surveillance sporadic, and even if caught, the fines low.
"This silent killer, which kills 300,000 seabirds off the coast of Newfoundland each year, will continue unless the federal government implements significant economic deterrents," Elmslie said, "Passing Bill C-15 is an important first step."
"A drop of oil the size of a quarter is enough to kill a seabird," IFAW's Emergency Relief representative Kim Elmslie said. Elmslie has assisted many emergency relief operations to save oiled seabirds caught in slicks from major oil spills around the world.
Elmslie will be in Newfoundland this week to assist the effort to save oiled seabirds.
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW is an international animal welfare and conservation organization that works to protect wild and domestic animals and to broker solutions that benefit both animals and people. With offices in 15 countries around the world, IFAW works to protect whales, elephants, great apes, big cats, dogs and cats, seals, and other animals. To learn how to help IFAW protect animals, please visit http://www.ifaw.org.