Canada’s “Fisheries Act” Section 36 is the primary pollution prevention provision…

Could be a curious couple of days at the Cohen Commission into declines of Fraser sockeye… Yesterday was:

Effects on the Fraser River Watershed – Pulp and Paper Effluent, Mining Effluent

And today was:  Effects on the Fraser River Watershed – Municipal Wastewater

The list of evidence for yesterday and today includes the: Policy and Practice Report #15: Municipal Wastewater, Pulp and Paper and Mining Effluents.

Policy and Practice Report_municipal wastewater etc

Weighs in at only a light 115 pages… as opposed to the 600+ pages of Technical Report: Project 2: Effects of contaminants on Fraser River sockeye salmon.

Having a flip through the Policy and Practice report I was struck by something I did not realize before… it’s pretty “exciting” stuff, as it relates to Section 36 of Canada’s Fisheries Act.  I know… riveting… but read a little further if you can… especially if you appreciate the alliteration of primary pollution prevention provision…and prohibiting people.

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From the report:

1. This policy and practice report (“Report”) provides an overview of municipal wastewater, pulp and paper mill and mining effluent disposal practices, and of the various regulatory frameworks governing those practices in the Province of British Columbia.

2. This Report is limited to these three effluent sources, which are regulated or proposed to be regulated under section 36 of the Fisheries Act. It does not look at the many other point or non-point sources of effluents discharged to the Fraser River.

4. This Report does not purport to be comprehensive nor authoritative and does not assess the case authorities or statutes to which reference is made. This Report aims to provide a contextual background for the commission’s hearings on the potential impacts of pulp and paper, municipal wastewater and mining on Fraser River sockeye. All issues that may be examined during the commission’s hearings on these three subjects are not necessarily covered in this Report.

lots of sources of pollution

Basically… there is a lot of nasty shit hitting our waterways — especially the Fraser River.

There’s a reason why resident Orcas that hang out in the Salish Sea/Georgia Strait (e.g. off the mouth of the Fraser River) have to be treated as toxic waste when they die…

And here’s a line item that is rather a mouthful (below)… “BOD” refers to:

(Oxygen-consuming organic matter decays and consumes the oxygen dissolved in the surrounding water. Dissolved oxygen (“DO”) is essential to the metabolism of all aerobic aquatic organisms. Biochemical oxygen demand (“BOD”) refers to the level of oxygen consumed by the biological breakdown, or decay, of organic matter over a given period of time.)



So essentially, even if sewage treatment facilities are up to snuff… they still pump out quite a bit of damaging material.

how’s your endocrine?


However… don’t worry… Canada’s Fisheries Act is there to protect fish and fish habitat… especially from Pollution.



more legislation...


All pretty strong language…

…kind of like the BC bike helmet law as part of BC’s Motor Vehicle Act.

Bicycle safety helmets

184 (1) A person commits an offence if that person operates or rides as a passenger on a cycle on a highway and is not properly wearing a bicycle safety helmet…

How long has the bike helmet law… been “law”… and how many folks you know have been “prosecuted”…?

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But here’s the kicker…


does not oblige...

So there’s no need for any ‘positive steps’… it’s all up to DFO and Environment Canada to undertake any prosecution at their “discretion”.


“Discretion: “Freedom to act or judge on one’s own.”

So… Section 36 is apparently the alliterative primary pollution prevention provision prohibiting persons from depositing bad stuff in waterways which might impact wild salmon…

however it’s up to ‘discretion for prosecution’… and that’s the discretion of government ministries that are all facing substantial cutbacks and budgetary pressures… (as well as streamlining of industrial approval processes)…

…sounds like a great recipe for stronger: Prohibiting Persons through Primary Pollution Prevention Provisions.

but in fact… it’s discretion for deciding on dealing with dumpers…

or “keep dumping until someone decides on their discretion”…

Many of us figure we operate on a “Polluter Pay” system… maybe not so much…

One thought on “Canada’s “Fisheries Act” Section 36 is the primary pollution prevention provision…

  1. priscilla judd

    I noticed the part after you must not…
    “except as authorized by regulation”
    That’s an interesting part of the legislation – can it be authorized retroactively? I imagine so. Actually, I’ve seen that kind of jargon in legal stuff before. Like in the pesticide control Act where it said: You must not create unreasonable adverse effects. Adverse effects being a normal course of events using a poison – those reasonable advers effect – you know the ones they list on packages like: sore eyes, difficulty breathing – those ones you are allowed to create. However if you create the unreasonable effects – the person who got then has to prove they are in fact unreasonable and that it was the pesticide that caused them. How likely is that?
    So if there is a problem from depositing into water etc… the Government authorizes the dumping and then it’s all OK- Like with the Lumby sewage water going in the Bessette. As my neighbor says “we are a parts per million society – it’s all permit ed.” Yikes!

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