Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies


Toxic red tides, such as the one that poisoned PEI in 1987, are a coastal aquatic phenomenon that cause harm to wildlife and humans alike, seemingly with increasing frequency. They appear tied to nutrient pollution of aquatic habitats, especially by the food-producing industries, such as aquaculture and industrial farming. Canada has made (non-binding) global commitments to protect marine waters from such land-based pollution, resulting in its ‘National Program of Action’. To date, however, Canada’s attempts to meet this goal have been hampered by the federal division of powers, and by an overall fragmented legal protection for the aquatic environment. Respecting no legal boundaries, aquatic habitats are practically a metaphor for environmental interconnectedness, yet Canada’s legal framework ignores this holistic picture. The current legislation perpetuates the historical view of food production as environmentally benign and of food security as having higher priority than environmental integrity. Ultimately though, a healthy, safe food supply depends entirely upon a healthy environment. Red tides are thus a dangerous reminder that Canada must urgently begin to deal with the interconnectedness of its lands, waters and human activities in future legal protections for aquatic habitats.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.