Disposal at sea permit application guide: overview and purpose, chapter 1

Canada strives to prevent pollution and protect its marine environment by regulating the disposal of waste or other matter into the sea through the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA). In regulating disposal activities, the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) Disposal at Sea Program recognizes that a balance must be maintained between environmental protection efforts and keeping waterways safe for navigation and other uses.

Canada, as a Party to the “Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972” (London Convention) and the related “1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972”, (London Protocol), has committed to:

Canada meets its international obligations and supports its own pollution prevention objectives for disposal at sea through the CEPA Disposal at Sea Provisions and its associated regulations.

Disposal at sea permits are issued through the ECCC's Disposal at Sea Program's regional offices. The permit application review is a consultative process between the applicant, Program staff and other regulators and stakeholders, including representatives of other government departments, port authorities, private industry groups, and members of Indigenous groups, the fishing community, and the public. On specific projects, we may also work with authorities that protect habitat or marine resources, or oversee normal discharges from ships or land-based activities. In addition to disposal at sea permit requirements, there may be other authorizations and regulatory requirements that apply.

Discharges from land (such as wastewater from an effluent pipe, excepting land-based discharges of dredged material) and discharges from normal ship operations (such as ballast water) or wastes from offshore mineral processing activities are not considered to be disposal at sea activities, but instead are subject to other regulatory controls. The disposal at sea provisions also do not apply in fresh water areas, such as the Great Lakes. Chapter 2 provides more details on what is considered “the sea” and provides additional examples of exemptions and complementary federal legislation.

Related link

1.1 Purpose of this guide

Submitting an acceptable disposal at sea permit application for assessment can be a complex process. In their best interests, applicants must be well informed, understand the applicable regulatory requirements and provide the Program with the information it needs to assess an application. The Program strives to provide as much information as possible to you so that your applications are complete and the assessment process is as efficient and timely as possible.

With this purpose in mind, this guide seeks to provide clear, consistent information and guidance to you.

This guide has been organized into self-contained chapters and appendices based on both process and technical guidance specific to the following waste types:

This guidance should be used in consultation with your nearest Disposal at Sea Program regional office that will help address the unique aspects of project applications on a case-by-case basis.

This Applicant’s Guide supersedes an earlier ECCC publication entitled: "Users Guide to the Application Form for Ocean Disposal", Environmental Protection Series Report EPS 1/Ma/1, December 1995.


Page details

Date modified: