DELTA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - March 26, 2014) - On Friday, March 7, 2014, BNSF Railway Company pled guilty in Surrey Provincial Court to one count of violating Section 35(1) of the Fisheries Act for the harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat. The charges stem from work carried out by the company in 2010 on a rail line adjacent to Cougar Creek that supports chum and coho salmon, and other fish species.
The Honourable Judge John Lenaghan ordered the Railway Company to pay a penalty of $70,000 to the Environmental Damages Fund toward the proper management and control of fisheries and fish habitat, and the conservation and protection of fish or fish habitat, in the Cougar Creek watershed located in Surrey and Delta, B.C. The conviction also includes an additional $5,000 fine.
- Work done by the Railway Company between October 30 and November 9, 2010 to maintain the rail line resulted in the harmful alteration, disruption, and destruction of fish habitat.
- BNSF's environmental consultants provided Fisheries and Oceans Canada with the proposed work plan; however, the Railway Company did not follow this. The work did not remain within the pre-determined area, was not completed within the appropriate timeframe when fish were not present, modified the local vegetation, and involved more than double the volume of rip rap rock to control erosion than was outlined in the work plan.
- Cougar Creek provides fish habitat for several fish species including coho and chum salmon and cutthroat trout. Cutthroat trout have been observed in portions of Cougar Creek and spend their whole life cycle there. Both chum and coho salmon spawn in portions of Cougar Creek; coho salmon spend approximately one year rearing in portions of the Creek before migrating to the marine environment.
- The fines were ordered paid in full by March 31, 2014.
The Government of Canada is committed to safeguarding the long-term health and productivity of Canada's fisheries resources, and the habitat that supports them, for generations to come. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a mandate to protect and conserve marine resources and to prosecute offenders under the Fisheries Act. It ensures and promotes compliance with the Act and other laws and regulations through a combination of land, air, and sea patrols, as well as education and awareness activities. As part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada's work to end illegal activity, the Department asks the public for information on activities of this nature or any contravention of the Fisheries Act and regulations. Anyone with information can call the toll-free violation reporting line at 1-800-465-4336.
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