Disposal at Sea Publications

Various documents including guidelines, guidance documents, annual reports, reports for specific research projects, and others are available here for downloading at Environment Canada's Publications Catalogue.

The Disposal at Sea Program reports annually on its activities to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The Program also informs Canada's Parliament through input to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) Annual Report available through the CEPA Registry.

Fact sheets

Information Bulletins

Consultation Documents

Discussion Paper on Disposal at Sea Permit Fees for Dredging and Excavation Operations

This paper discusses ways of modifying the permit fees to reduce the costs for clients that carry out routine dredging or excavation and to set a maximum level for the fees. The first proposal is the introduction of an annual fee cap for disposal at sea permits for maintenance dredging and excavation operations. A fee cap would require amendments to the Ocean Dumping Permit Fee Regulations (Site Monitoring) under the (FAA) and be subject to the formal regulatory process. The second proposal involves a multi-year permit fee for maintenance dredging and excavation. This would require amendments to CEPA.

Report on Consultations on Cost Recovery Review and Boundaries of the Sea

This document summarizes both the results of public meetings and written responses received during public consultations conducted by EC in 2002-2003. The consultations focused on two issues. First was a three year review of the disposal site monitoring fees charged for disposal at sea permits for dredged material and excavated till. The second was EC's proposal for a method to determine the landward boundaries of application of the disposal at sea provisions of the CEPA.

Public Consultation Paper on Boundaries of the Sea for the Ocean Disposal Program

This document outlines proposals for a process to be used in setting boundary lines between the sea and freshwater for the purposes of EC's Ocean Disposal Program. In particular this process will be considered as it applies to setting the boundary in major estuaries such as the Fraser River estuary in British Columbia, the Mackenzie River estuary in the North West Territories, and the Miramichi River estuary in New Brunswick. Consideration will also be given to how the process would work for areas of brackish water such as the Bras d'Or Lakes in Nova Scotia.

Public consultations occurred in the winter 2003. A consultation report has been prepared.

Review of the Monitoring Fee for the Disposal at Sea Program

In 1999, EC implemented a permit fee for the disposal at sea of dredged and excavated material at a rate of $470 per 1,000 cubic metres. The fee was estimated to be the fair market value of the right or privilege of permitting access to suitable disposal sites under the CEPA, 1999. A key commitment by EC to the regulated community was to review the fee three years after its implementation.

This paper was prepared for that review. It focuses on the issue of cost recovery through monitoring fees and presents an analysis of the fees paid, who paid them, how they have been spent, and an update on the costs of disposal site monitoring.

Public consultations occurred in the winter 2003. A consultation report has been prepared.


Application Form and Notice of Application

Application Form

To be completed using compatible word-processing software, printed out, and submitted with supporting documents to your nearest Disposal at Sea Program Office.

Alternatively, hard copies of the application form for a disposal at sea permit may be obtained from your nearest Disposal at Sea Program Office.

Notice of Application

The application must contain proof that a notice of the application was published in a newspaper of general circulation in the vicinity of the proposed loading and disposal activities to satisfy CEPA.


Sample Permit and Amendment

Examples of a permit and of an amendment as published on the CEPA Environmental Registry


Annual Compendium of Monitoring Activities

This report is prepared each year as part of Canada's obligations under the London Convention and to the regulated community paying the monitoring fee. It presents summary results for each of the representative disposal sites monitored during the previous calendar year. The information presented varies with the issues of concern for a given site and the parameters examined. Monitoring activities may include:

  • physical surveillance of the sea floor at the site such as a video camera survey or sonar survey by remote submersible,
  • sampling sediments to examine their properties and analyzing for the presence of chemical contaminants,
  • sampling sediments to examine their biological properties and conduct toxicity tests,

Details can be found in the Monitoring section.

2006 Compendium

2005 Compendium

2004 Compendium

2003 Compendium

2002 Compendium

2001 Compendium

2000 Compendium

1999 Compendium


Technical Guidance Documents and Monitoring Guidelines

National Guidelines for Monitoring Dredged and Excavated Material at Ocean Disposal Sites (EPSM-386)

The National Guidelines for Monitoring Dredged and Excavated Material at Ocean Disposal Sites provides advice to managers and professionals on developing and implementing monitoring projects at ocean disposal sites that receive dredged and excavated material. Issues discussed include:

  • triggers to monitoring,
  • developing monitoring plans,
  • study design,
  • data analysis, and
  • biological assessment tools.

Technical Guidance for Physical Monitoring at Ocean Disposal Sites

This document provides advice to managers and professionals on developing and implementing monitoring projects at ocean disposal sites that receive dredged and excavated material. Technical guidance is provided on:

  • positioning equipment,
  • sampling equipment,
  • techniques for observing ocean disposal sites and defining their boundaries, and
  • sediment transport models to predict short-term and long-term effects.

Guidance Document on the Collection and Preparation of Sediments for Physicochemical Characterization and Biological Testing (EPS 1/RM/29)

This guidance document examines the technical considerations of sample collection, preparation, handling and statistical design of sampling programs.

Minimum Sample Collection Requirements

The Disposal at Sea Program provides guidance on the design and completion of sampling projects to characterize the material proposed for disposal at sea. The following is a table of the minimum number of samples to be collected, based on the proposed volume of the project. It should be noted, however, that various factors can increase the required number of samples, such as proximity to sensitive or critical habitat, stratification of sediment layers at a dredge site, lack of information on potential sources of pollution or historical use of a site. Applicants are strongly encouraged, therefore, to consult with the nearest Disposal at Sea Program Office prior to finalizing or carrying out a sampling plan.


Sediment Quality Guidelines

Canadian Sediment Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life

Canadian sediment quality guidelines (SQG) for the protection of aquatic life are developed for individual chemicals for both freshwater and marine (including estuarine) sediments by the Water Quality Guidelines Task Group of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). EC's National Guidelines and Standards Office is the technical secretariat for the Task Group. These guidelines are numerical limits or narrative statements recommended to support and maintain aquatic life associated with bed sediments and are developed from the available scientific information on the biological effects of sediment-associated chemicals.


Pollution Gradient Study

Pollution Gradient Study: Sydney Harbour, Nova Scotia, 1997

The study was conducted by EC to assess tools used for permit assessment. Biological toxicity tests, chemistry, and benthic community structure were examined along a known pollution gradient in Sydney Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada. Major contaminants were PAHs, PCBs, and heavy metals.


Biological Test Methods

EC has developed a series of biological test methods to measure various effects in sediments and porewater such as survival, growth and reproduction and bioaccumulation. Test results are interpreted according to interim interpretation criteria. These tests are required in the permit application phase when chemical measurements indicate the Lower Action Levels of the National Action List are exceeded. As well, these methods are used in monitoring to confirm predictions of no significant biological impacts arising from disposal at sea.

EC, 2001. Biological test method: sublethal toxicity tests to assess sediments intended for disposal at sea. EPS 1/RM/40 Environmental Protection, Ottawa, ON. 186 pp.

EC, 1998. Biological Test Method: Reference Method for Determining Acute Lethality of Sediment to Marine or Estuarine Amphipods. EPS 1/RM/35 Environmental Protection, Ottawa, ON. 75 pp.

EC, 1992a. Biological test method: acute test for sediment toxicity using marine or estuarine amphipods. EPS 1/RM/26 Environmental Protection, Ottawa, ON. 83 pp.

The following additional method can be ordered by contacting your nearest Disposal at sea Disposal at Sea Program Office or the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA):

USEPA, 1993. Guidance manual: bedded sediment bioaccumulation tests. USEPA. September 1993. EPA/600/R-93/183.