Transport Minister Marc Garneau's Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act would make abandoning boats illegal with hefty fines for those who don't comply

Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau introduced on Monday (30 October), his new Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act, in the House of Commons.

The act would make it illegal to abandon boats in Canada’s harbours and waterways. Those who don’t comply will face a hefty fine: up to $300,000 and a six month jail term for individuals and up to $6M for companies.

During a press conference in Ottawa, Garneau exposed the environmental issues that abandoned vessels cause and said that for many boat owners it’s simply cheaper to abandon their craft than dispose of it. “This has to stop,” he said, calling the practice “a blight on the countryside,”.

Large commercial vessels in Canada will also be required to have insurance to cover the potential cost of disposing of vessels.

The act, which is part of the federal government’s Oceans Protections Plan, brings into Canadian law the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, a 10-year-old international agreement for removing abandoned and derelict vessels from international waters.

The government will be able to force owners of abandoned boats to remove and dispose of them safely, however Garneau stressed that the new fines will not be applicable to existing derelicts. One of the reasons for this is because it’s difficult to establish ownership of these abandoned vessels.

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In an effort to tackle the issue the government will compile an inventory of the wrecks currently floating in Canadian waters in view of removing them.

According to British Columbia New Democrat MP Sheila Malcolmson, who welcomed the act, these wrecks are ‘in the thousands’.

“This is absolutely a breakthrough for coastal communities,” The Canadian press reports Malcolmson saying.
The MP also stated that the reason why so many boats are abandoned is because the system has become lax.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau has said that he will be working with Canadian provinces to establish a better system for licensing and registration for pleasure craft and will also launch a study to find the any discrepancies in federal commercial vessel registration systems.

Derelicts pose an environmental hazard for several reasons, one of them is the leakage of oil and petrol into the water.
However their removals is expensive. The Canadian Press reports that in 2016 it cost more than $1M to remove boat Viki Lyne II from Ladysmith’s harbour.