News from West Coast Environmental Law

Here is a newsletter to share from West Coast Environmental Law:

In this issue:Act now to protect fish | Water Sustainability Act | Twitter Moot 2014 | Private ownership of BC fish and lakes | Upcoming webinars

Dear Eldy,

Since 2012, several of Canada’s most important environmental laws, including the Fisheries Act, have been under attack. The changes to the Fisheries Act are just now being realized, and the implications could be dire for our wild fish. There is still time to have your voice heard about these new regulations – add your voice here before March 17th.

In other news, West Coast has analyzed the contents of BC’s new Water Sustainability Act, the Supreme Twitter Court of Canada takes aim at out-dated mining laws, and we have some upcoming webinars on environmental law.

Act now to protect fish

The Fisheries Act is under siege – again! In 2012, we witnessed an unprecedented attack on nature and democracy as Canada passed two omnibus budget bills that gutted core environmental laws, including the Fisheries Act. Last year, we saw the last of those changes implemented, and as a result have a much weaker Act that provides less protection for fewer fish.

But that was just the beginning. Some of the changes to the Fisheries Act gave broad powers to Cabinet to further dismantle protection of fish and fish habitat, and Cabinet is starting to flex those muscles. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has proposed regulations that would let the Fisheries Minister permit widespread pollution, such as by exempting fish farms from permitting requirements before polluting wild salmon ecosystems, and allowing the Ministry to altogether offload its responsibility over pollution. But these regulations are not a done deal; join us in sending a message to decision-makers that the proposed Regulations will be bad for fish. ACT NOW: The federal government’s deadline for comments is this Monday, March 17, 2014.

  • To learn more, and to add your voice in opposing these Regulations, click here.

The strengths and weaknesses of the new Water Sustainability Act

The BC Government introduced its long-promised Water Sustainability Act (WSA) in the BC Legislature on Tuesday, March 11. So how does the new WSA do? Reviews among the environmental community are mixed.

  • Read the highlights and lowlights of the new Water Sustainability Act here.

Do you #twtmoot? Bringing legal argument into the 21st Century

West Coast Environmental Law recently held our 2014 Twitter Moot, a competition for law students held entirely over Twitter. Congratulations to Mae Price and Erin Gray of Team UVic, who won both the Twitter Moot as decided by judges, and also the People’s Choice Award, voted on by the Twitter Moot audience!

Can a U.S. billionaire claim BC fish and lakes?

Can a private resort company own a lake? If so, are the fish in the lake private or public? And can the resort keep the public from fishing in that lake? These critical questions are central to a David vs. Goliath battle unfolding in BC’s Nicola Valley that could have huge implications for all British Columbians. And Bill 5, which has been introduced in the BC Legislature, raises concerns that the BC government might be about to side with the company.

Talk environmental law with us

West Coast Environmental Law offers public webinars on various environmental law issues, to educate the public and for professional development for practicing lawyers. We have 2 upcoming webinars:

  • How engineers can get serious about climate change
    Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 9:00 am-10:00 am PST
    Cost: Free
    Click here to register

    Andrew Gage is the author of the ground-breaking report Professionals and climate change: How professional associations can get serious about global warming. Andrew’s presentation will explore the role of engineering and other professional associations and their members in dealing with climate change mitigation and adaptation. Andrew will discuss the recommendations made in his report, and how they apply to engineers. This webinar is brought to you by Engineers for Carbon Ethics.

  • Who caused climate change?
    Friday, April 11, 2014, 1:00 pm-3:00 pm PST
    Cost: Cost: Cdn$20 + PST & GST for lawyers/professionals with public interest organizations, EDRF lawyers, students or members of the general public, and Cdn$100 + PST & GST for all other lawyers/professionals.
    Click here to register

    Is it possible that the courts could one day find that large-scale greenhouse gas emitters have “caused” rising sea-levels, extreme weather events and other climate-related damages? The problem of causation is one of the most challenging for lawyers interested in lawsuits for climate-related damages. Join Peter Frumhoff, Chief Scientist of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Climate Campaign and three lawyers as they try to untangle the difficult question of who caused climate change? This webinar qualifies for 2 hours CPD credit with the Law Society of British Columbia.


It is my hope that all will take a moment to check out the links in this important newsletter…important, very important!!!


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