Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels

The federal government has introduced several new initiatives regarding abandoned and wrecked vessels. This article provides information on the National Strategy to Address Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels; on Bill C-64, Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act; and on the call for proposals for the Abandoned Boats Program.

National Strategy to Address Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels

In November 2016, the Government of Canada launched the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan to improve marine safety and responsible shipping, protect Canada’s marine environment and help advance Indigenous reconciliation.

The National Strategy to Address Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels is focused on prevention and removal of these problem vessels, and is a key element of the Oceans Protection Plan. The following six measures make up the Strategy:

  • Proposed Bill C-64, Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act.
  • Inventory and Assessments. An on-going inventory of wrecked and abandoned vessels will be developed. This publically accessible inventory will be kept up to date and will include risk assessments to guide and help prioritize future actions on high-risk vessels.
  • Improving vessel owner identification. The effectiveness of the proposed new legislation will rely on the ability to identify vessel owners.  The federal government is working with provinces and territories to collaborate on ways to further enhance the pleasure craft licensing system, and has launched a study to assess gaps in Canada’s commercial vessel registration systems.
  • Long-term funding for the removal of wrecked and abandoned vessels. The federal government is looking at options to establish vessel-owner financed funds to address large and small high-risk vessels over the longer-term.
  • Abandoned Boats Program. Transport Canada’s five-year, $6.85 million Abandoned Boats Program will assist communities in the assessment, removal and disposal of existing high-priority abandoned and/or wrecked small boats posing hazards in Canadian waters; educate small-boat owners about how to responsibly manage their end-of-life boats; and support research on boat recycling and environmentally responsible boat design.
  • Small Craft Harbours Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program. $1.325 million over five years to Harbour Authorities and other eligible recipients to remove and dispose of abandoned and/or wrecked vessels located in small craft harbours owned by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Review of Bill C-64

BC local governments may be interested in the following sections of the Act that are most relevant to them. This information was gathered from a review of the legislation, as well as the November 29th Transport Canada consultation on the National Strategy to Address Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels.

In summary, the Act will:

  • Strengthen owner liability for their vessels, including costs for clean up
  • Address irresponsible vessel management, including prohibiting vessel abandonment
  • Enhance federal powers to take proactive action on problem vessels, including undertaking hazard assessments to inform measures
  • Introduce compliance and enforcement regime with offences and penalties
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities between Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard

The second reading of the Act is expected in early 2018.

Abandoned Boats Program

Transport Canada is currently accepting applications under a second call for proposals for assessment and removal of projects under the Abandoned Boats Program. The application deadline is March 15, 2018.

The Abandoned Boats Program (ABP) provides grant and contribution funding to assist in the removal of abandoned and/or wrecked small boats posing a hazard in Canadian waters.

UBCM Website

Information and updates on Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels can now be found on the UBCM website, including presentations from the November 29th Transport Canada consultation on the National Strategy to Address Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels.

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