On October 13, 2016, the tug boat Nathan E. Stewart ran aground at Edge Reef near Bella Bella, British Columbia, resulting in the release of approximately 107,552 litres (28,412 gallons) of diesel fuel and 2,240 litres (591 gallons) of lubricants. Both substances are deleterious to fish and migratory birds.
The Fisheries Act prohibits the deposit of deleterious substances into water frequented by fish. The Migratory Birds Convention Act,1994, prohibits the deposit of harmful substances into areas frequented by migratory birds as well as other human activities that are potentially harmful to migratory birds.
On July 16, 2019, the owner of the Nathan E. Stewart, Kirby Offshore Marine Operating LLC was sentenced in the Provincial Court of British Columbia, in Bella Bella, after pleading guilty to three charges of violating federal legislation, in connection with the spill.
The company was sentenced to pay the following penalties:
- $2.7 million for the offence of depositing a deleterious substance into water frequented by fish, in violation of the Fisheries Act;
- $200,000 for the offence of depositing a substance harmful to migratory birds, in violation of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994; and
- $5,000 for the offence of failing to comply with the pilotage requirements under the Pilotage Act.
The $2.7 million penalty imposed under the Fisheries Act is the largest fine for the deposit of a deleterious substance into water frequented by fish from a single spill. This penalty will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund and is recommended to be used toward the conservation of fish and fish habitat in the Central Coast region of British Columbia. The $200,000 penalty for the offence under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 will also be directed to the Fund.
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