Oceans Protection Plan Initiatives Announced

The federal government made a series of announcements on May 31 rolling out initiatives under the Oceans Protection Plan that address small high priority abandoned vessels, the establishment of new Coast Guard Infrastructure, and the creation of a Coastal Restoration Fund.

With regards to abandoned vessels, the Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau announced the establishment of a $6.85 million national, five-year Abandoned Boats Program, consisting of the following components:

  Maximum project funding Percentage of Costs Covered Deadline for 2017-2018 funding
Assessment and
Removals - $5.6 million
Assessment $5000 per boat removal assessment 100% October 30
Removals $50,000 per boat removal and disposal 75% October 30
Education, Awareness
and Research - $1.25 million
Education and Awareness $50,000 annually 75% September 30
Research $100,000 annually 100% September 30

 The removals portion of the program is aimed towards the removal of existing smaller high-priority abandoned boats, taking into account potential harmful consequences to the environment, human health and safety or local economies. Funding is open to local governments as well as provinces, territories, indigenous groups, community organizations, private ports or marinas, Canadian port authorities and academia. The Education, Awareness and Research Component is aimed at raising awareness about boat owner responsibility and funding research on environmentally responsible boat design and recycling of end-of lifeboats.

Members have endorsed several resolutions on the removal of abandoned and derelict vessels (2005- B112; 2010-B30; 2012-B23; 2013-B30; 2014-B23). Removal of these vessels has been an ongoing concern for local governments, as these vessels threaten BC oceans, coasts, lakes and rivers by obstructing navigational channels, creating a public safety hazard, causing harm to the environment, becoming unsightly and diminishing commercial and recreational activities. In addition, assessing, removing, and disposing of these vessels requires significant financial and technical resources.

The announcement of the Abandoned Boats Program comes after a long history of advocacy on the part of UBCM for a more coordinated and collaborative response between provincial and federal governments to address the issue of derelict and abandoned vessels in BC. While the establishment the program represents a first step in addressing abandoned and derelict vessels, the budget of $6.85 million over 5 years is a relatively minor investment. This program also only targets removal of smaller vessels with much lower removal costs than larger vessels. Further, the program will only provide funding for reimbursements – Transport Canada will not provide advance funding. UBCM will continue its advocacy efforts on this issue while monitoring further announcements under the Oceans Protections Plan.

In addition to the Abandoned Boats Program, other elements of the Oceans Protection Plan Announced on the 31st include:

  • $108.1 million over five years to establish new lifeboat stations as well as create 24/7 emergency response capacity within three existing Regional Operations Centres. In BC, this funding will support the Regional Operations Centre in Victoria, and the establishment of lifeboat stations in Victoria, Hartley Bay, Port Renfrew and Nootka Sound. This announcement directly addresses member resolutions calling for Restoration of the Coast Guard complement and safety measures on the coast (2012-B122; 2012-A3).
  • $75 million over 5 years for the creation of a national Coastal Restoration Fund. This fund would support medium to large projects ranging from $200,000 to $1 million per year funding requests, with consideration to requests as low as $50,000 of strategic importance.  Local governments are not eligible for funding under this program, which targets non profit and community based organizations, indigenous organizations and academic researchers.

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