Disposal At Sea

Environment Canada (EC) administers a permit system controlling the disposal of waste and other matter at sea. Each permit is granted following a detailed assessment and sets conditions to protect the marine environment and human health.

People walking down the street in Newfoundland and Labrador

General Information


Workers outside a dredging company

Permit Application and Operations Guidance



A dredge about to release its content on a barge.

A Visual Overview of the Disposal at Sea Program



Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) disposal at sea is the deliberate disposal of approved substances at sea from ships, aircraft, platforms or other structures. Each year in Canada, two to three million tonnes of material are disposed of at sea under this system of permits that has been in place since 1975.

Only those substances listed in Schedule 5 of CEPA may be considered for disposal at sea. These are: dredged material, fisheries waste, ships or platform, inert geological matter, uncontaminated organic matter and bulky substances. Discharges from land or from normal ship operations (such as bilge water) are not considered disposal at sea, but are subject to other controls.

The majority of the material disposed of at sea is dredged material that must be moved to keep shipping channels and harbours clear for navigation and commerce.

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