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Nature News
by Marlene Harris


Winter 2002   —   Birds Dying on Atlantic Coast

Oil soaked birds have been washing ashore on beaches off the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia and despite efforts being made, most of them are dying.

Biologists are convinced that the source of the oil is not one oil spill, but rather the results of waste engine oil being routinely dumped overboard by ships en route. The practice is illegal, however continues unchecked, as ship crews know that the chances of getting caught, especially in Canadian waters, are next to nil, and they prefer to take the chance rather than dispose of their waste oil in the proper manner, which involves disposition at the docks for a dumping fee.

As if to highlight the situation, last week a Filipino ship "plea bargained" its way to freedom after being charged with illegal dumping. The fine was $125,000, a small amount for such an infraction. The Canadian government seems to be totally unconcerned that the entire Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia is becoming despoiled, and its precious wildlife dying as a result.

In the US, fines for illegal dumping are huge, however Canada’s wishy–washy reputation is renown across the globe. The idea that an offending country could "plea bargain" its way out of a conviction is outrageous, and sets a dangerous precedent for other countries sailing in Canadian waters, who would follow suit.

At the time of this writing, about 150 birds had washed ashore, however biologists warned that this was just the tip of the iceberg, and many more were dying offshore.


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