Environment and Climate Change Canada reports that the Eyelander, a vessel owned by U.S. company Bright Eye Fishing Corporation, has been fined $35,000 in the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador after the company pleaded guilty to violations under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994. The fine will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.
The Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, mandates Environment and Climate Change Canada to protect migratory birds, their nest, and populations, and it regulates potentially harmful human activities that may impact them.
The Witless Bay Seabird Ecological Reserve is made up of four islands, including Green Island, and is an extremely important area for breeding seabirds.
The incident took place during the time of year when puffins and murres are fledging from their colonies, rendering both chicks and adults particularly vulnerable to oil pollution. This is especially true for murre chicks as they are still flightless, and they depart the colony by swimming on the water, accompanied to sea by an adult.
On August 25, 2017, the Eyelander ran aground on Green Island, part of the Witless Bay Seabird Ecological Reserve, in Newfoundland and Labrador. Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers conducted an investigation and found that the grounding caused the ship to deposit diesel fuel in an area frequented by migratory birds. As part of the investigation, 16 murre-chick carcasses were recovered from the oil sheen on the water.
As a result of this conviction, the company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.
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