Trashing Our Lakes

As a diver and someone who loves the natural landscape, I find it gut wrenching to see the footprint we leave behind on the planet. With all the time I spend on and in the water, it especially hits home when diving. Wanton disregard for the environment has got to stop, lest we leave no future for future generations.

When it comes to diving here in Canada, I am amazed by the beauty and preservation of our wrecks and appalled by the senseless pollution of our lakes and rivers at the same time. Lakes and oceans are not bottomless and rivers not endless, what is put in there will come back to bite us in the ass.

Oil Slick

In an effort to thwart environmental terrorists who have no regard for such issues, I thought I would locate and post some contact info so that readers could report crimes against our planet. Specifically I was interested in the Great Lakes and who would be the enforcement / regulatory agency to oversee such heinous activities. I figured this would be easy to do, but the more I thought about it the more possibilities I came up with.

For example; my first thought was the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), but then again I didn’t really perceive that many of the Great Lakes have much of an active fishery anymore and they weren’t really oceans. My next thought was to Environment Canada, which is a federal agency. Would this be a federal or provincial issue….. oh my, perhaps it would be the Ministry of Environment. Surely this is a criminal matter too, so RCMP, OPP or Municipal Police????

Floating Trash

I didn’t just want to know who had a stake in these issues. I didn’t care if they would sit around and discuss it to death.

What I wanted was to find out was; If I disposed of say….. my unwanted boat, by sinking it. Who would come and slap the cuffs on me?

So I put out some feelers, and the response I got back seemed to indicate that because many government agencies have a hand in the Great Lakes pot on every level (federal, provincial, regional and municipal), there wasn’t any one person to call. 

One response I got from Environment Canada indicated that in Ontario, the place to call would be the Spills Action Center, who would take the information and disseminate it to various agencies who have a stake in the issue. There are several laws broken by disposal of anything in the great lakes. Anything deleterious to fish or their habitat are a huge concern.
Note: This isn’t just for spills but improper dumping or disposal of any kind.

In the example of the intentional sinking of an unwanted boat there are many things that could negatively impact the environment. There is fuel, oil, battery acid, PCBs, asbestos, plastics, lead paint, mercury, and the list goes on. As unreasonable as they may seem at times, there are reasons that artificial reef programs are heavily scrutinized and millions of dollars are spent to clean, prepare and inspect vessels destined for the deep.

I would implore anyone who witnesses or knows of these kind of activities to contact the SAC  (1-800-268-6060) with details so that responsible parties can be called upon to answer for their actions and re-mediate the damage they have done.

In the mean time why not gather some friends and do a beach or underwater cleanup of the trash that is around your local swimmin hole (even if it is a Great Lake).

Important Information:
Spills Action Center (For Any Environmental Contamination of Any Kind)
Website:  http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/en/emergency/actioncenter.php
Phone Number: 1-800-268-6060

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About Chris Phinney

An IWMS Systems Manager and part time student at McMaster University. Chris is studying anthropology, more specifically archaeology working towards his BA. Chris was formerly a dive shop manager and is factory trained in regulator and equipment service. Chris enjoys research and studying fine details.