New funding to aid removal of derelict vessels in Canada

(VANCOUVER, British Columbia) — Abandoned and wrecked vessels can be harmful to the environment and to public safety. Through Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan, the federal government made abandoning a vessel illegal in Canada and it is taking action to remove abandoned and wrecked vessels from Canadian waters and protecting the nation’s coasts and waterways.

On Jan. 16, Patrick Weiler, member of Parliament for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, on behalf of the Minister of Transport Pablo Rodriguez, announced up to $1.6 million for eight projects which will assess, remove and dispose of 34 abandoned and wrecked vessels in Canadian waters. The organizations that will receive funding include:

• Salish Sea Industrial Services
• Rugged Coast Research Society
• Gibsons Marine Transport Ltd.
• Freedom Diving Systems Ltd.
• Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

Abandoned boats in Canada (for example, recreational and small commercial fishing vessels) have economic and environmental impacts on local communities. They can pollute the marine ecosystem, damage infrastructure, interfere with navigation and pose a safety risk to Canadians.

“Wrecked and abandoned boats cause significant safety and environmental hazards, and we’re taking action through the Abandoned Boats Program to work toward the assessment, removal and safe disposal of these boats,” said Rodriguez. “We made it illegal to abandon boats in Canada, and we’re partnering with local communities and boat owners to keep our navigable waters safe and clean.”

“The Canadian Coast Guard is proud of the important work it does with Transport Canada to reduce hazards posed by abandoned and wrecked vessels, so that waterways remain safe and enjoyable for everyone,” said Diane Lebouthillier
minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. “This investment into the Abandoned Boats Program will help further reduce the number of legacy problem vessels in Canadian waters. Every vessel removed is another step towards protecting and nurturing the delicate marine environment, which is one of our main priorities under the Oceans Protection Plan.”

The Abandoned Boats Program is part of the government of Canada’s National Strategy to Address Wrecked and Abandoned Vessels, which introduced multiple measures to reduce the number of abandoned and wrecked vessels that pose hazards in Canadian waters and support the preservation and restoration of marine ecosystems.

Through the Oceans Protection Plan‘s Abandoned Boats Program, funding has been approved for the removal of 223 boats since 2017.

In 2022, the Abandoned Boats Program received additional funding of $4.3 million under the renewed Oceans Protection Plan, including $3.7 million over three years to support the assessment, removal, and safe disposal of abandoned and wrecked, vessels in Canadian waters. Of that amount, $1.6 million is available in the 2023-24 fiscal year for the assessment and removal of abandoned or wrecked vessels.

Communities, particularly those which are small and remote, often do not have the financial resources necessary to remove and dispose of abandoned and wrecked vessels. This funding will provide local communities with the resources they need to remove these vessels from Canadian waterways.

In addition to the Abandoned Boats Program, Canada’s National Strategy to Address Wrecked and Abandoned Vessels also includes the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act and the Small Craft Harbors Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program.

In 2019, the government of Canada took a significant step to address these concerns by enacting the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act. A key measure under the Oceans Protection Plan, this act allows Transport Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard to take action against cases of abandoned, wrecked or hazardous vessels.

On Sept. 27, Transport Canada issued an administrative monetary penalty in the amount of $26,600 to the owner of Spirit of Kelowna, located in Shuswap Lake, British Columbia, for failing to comply with prohibitions against vessel abandonment under the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act.

– Transport Canada

Transport Canada photo
By Professional Mariner Staff