A Norwegian shipping company has been slapped with $70,000 in fines after one of its tanker ships dumped fish oil into the Pacific Ocean, 220 kilometres off the west coast of Vancouver Island two years ago.
Crown prosecutor John Cliffe and Champion Shipping A/S lawyer David Jones presented a joint submission in provincial court last week agreeing to the $70,000 penalty for the July 29, 2010 incident.
Champion, a 30-year-old vessel, measuring 183 meters in length and weighing 38,233 metric tonnes, was observed by a Transport Canada surveillance aircraft with a hose dangling off its port side discharging a “brownish-coloured oily liquid” into the ocean.
It was later discovered the ship had stopped at a Vancouver port carrying 3,801.42 metric tonnes of crude Mexican fish oil from Guaymas, Mexico for delivery to the Mainland.
After unloading the fish oil, Champion disembarked for China when the ship master said he decided to clean the tank, pouring 938 litres of the substance comprised, in part, of crude Mexican fish oil into the ocean leaving an oil slick estimated to be more than 56 kilometres long.
“The fine is consistent with other disposal at sea cases in the country and is a good deterrent,” said Environment Canada enforcement officer Jarrett Brochez.
“It sets a benchmark. This is one of the first ones on the West Coast and it is a starting point.”
The penalty will be divided into two portions, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, with $5,000 going into government coffers and $65,000 to environmental research.
Provincial court Judge Robert Higinbotham accepted the joint submission Jan. 25, the ninth court appearance for the case. The first seven were not attended by Champion Shipping A/S or a representative.
“It is not uncommon for people charged with offences, that don’t reside in Canada, to consider their positions to whether they will actually come to court,” Cliffe said. “It didn’t surprise me in the least.”
Canadian court summons cannot be served outside of Canada, and the accused is a foreign national with no connection or roots in Canada.