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B.C. court asks Crown for more specifics on when fish died during port construction

Prince Rupert Authority and DP World face 10 fisheries violations involving Fairview expansion
DP World, the Prince Rupert Port Authority and its contractors, Fraser River Pile and Dredge Inc., BelPacific Excavating and Shoring Limited Partnership and Bel Contracting have been charged with 10 fisheries violations that were alleged to have occurred during Phase 2 Fairview Terminal expansion. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

The B.C. court has asked the Crown to provide the exact 116 occasions when, allegedly, fish died during an 11-month construction period at Fairview Container Terminal.

“The accused is entitled to be reasonably informed,” said Judge Herman Seidemann III.

DP World, Port of Prince Rupert and their contractors are facing 10 fisheries charges for causing serious harm to fish. In the Prince Rupert court on May 29, Judge Seidemann III reiterated exactly what is being alleged. The contractors FRPD and BEL Contracting built a large rock wall on the perimeter of the terminal. When the tide was high fish swam behind the wall, unable to escape when the tide later retreated.

Both parties met in court Wednesday after the defendants requested more sufficient details on the charges to permit a thorough defence during trial.

Ten charges were laid in Nov. 2018 after Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) launched an investigation looking into whether fish were seriously harmed during the port’s Fairview expansion project between Nov. 30 2014 and Nov. 1 2015.

DP World, the port, and their contractors could face charges for 116 separate offences.

According to Section 78.1 of the Fisheries Act “where any contravention of this Act or the regulations is committed or continued on more than one day, it constitutes a separate offence for each day on which the contravention is committed or continued.”

The first offence is a minimum fine of $100,000 to a maximum fine of $4 million. Subsequent offences double to a minimum of $200,000 and maximum of $8 million.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert port and DP World faces 10 fisheries violations

Judge Seidemann III said that in order for the accused to have a fair trail the “particulars” on the 116 occasions is a necessity.

These particulars will impose additional obligations and expectations on the Crown to prove their case. The Crown has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the exact days over the 11 month time period when the fish died however, they do not need to provide the means of death.

READ MORE: DFO launches investigation into alleged salmon deaths

The charges, laid on Nov. 2 at the Prince Rupert courthouse, state the accused carried out work that resulted in “serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery, or to the fish that support such a fishery” and failure to conduct “fish salvage operations” prior to in-water work.

The defendants are also charged for allegedly failing to notify the DFO that attempts to avoid harm to the fish were not successful. DFO said they do not comment on cases before the court.

The next court date is set for Dec. 2, 2019 and will last until May 7, 2020. The first and last week of the trial will be held in Prince Rupert, with the rest being held in Vancouver to accommodate the amount of lawyers who will be present.

READ MORE: Trial dates edge closer for port, DP World facing fisheries charges

Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
Jenna Cocullo 
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