Feds take on abandoned boats, temptation remains

Feds' derelict vessel plan is a good start

Feds’ derelict vessel plan is a good start

The federal government has taken a decisive step in the right direction by committing $6.9 million to the removal of abandoned and wrecked vessels from our waters. Last week’s funding announcement signals Ottawa is stepping up after years of murkiness about which agency is responsible for problem vessels that release contaminants into the environment.

What remains unclear is how many of the 600+ inventoried wrecked boats that litter our country’s coastlines can be removed over the five-year funding term, with the small amount of funding committed. The funding targets existing high-priority abandoned boats that are small or in commercial fishing harbours. We are heartened to learn the Coast Guard will be working on measures for larger vessels, as additional funding will be needed to address ships like the Viki Lyne II that was removed from Ladysmith Harbour last summer at a cost of $1.2 million.

This new piece of the Oceans Protection Plan has the potential to have a significant impact on our coastlines and our coastal habitat—and at Georgia Strait Alliance we know this has to be just the beginning. But in the meantime, we’re left wondering about the absence of a voluntary turn-in program. It’s a simple initiative that could easily deter resource-strapped boaters from the temptation to jump ship or scuttle their derelict boats, causing long-term damage to our waters.

Removing and preventing future abandoned vessels will take a more comprehensive commitment to tackle this challenge from cradle to grave, and we’re eager to hear further announcements in the months to come.

Christianne Wilhelmson

Executive Director, Georgia Strait Alliance

Cowichan Valley Citizen