Abandoned boats are a growing problem and have economic, social, and environmental impacts on local communities across Canada. They can pollute the marine environment, harm local businesses such as tourism and fisheries, damage infrastructure, interfere with navigation, and pose safety risks to Canadians. The Government of Canada, through its Oceans Protection Plan, is working hard to deter this irresponsible practice.
On February 16 the Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, announced the most recent initiatives to receive funding for the assessment, removal and disposal of abandoned boats in Canadian waters. Under the Abandoned Boats Program, $1,692,079 is being provided to assess 44 boat removal projects in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador, and to remove 51 abandoned boats in British Columbia and Nova Scotia.
“The Government of Canada is committed to safeguarding our oceans and waterways. The federal funding, through the Abandoned Boats Program, offers communities support in addressing the problem of abandoned boats and the associated risks to Canadian waters. Thanks to the progress made through the Oceans Protection Plan, our marine environment is safer and more protected than it has ever been,” said Alghabra.
These announcements follow the coming-into-force of the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act on July 30, 2019. The Act makes it illegal to abandon boats, increases vessel owner liability, and strengthens the Government of Canada’s response in cases where owners do not behave responsibly in disposing of their vessels at the end of their useful life.
“Abandoned and wrecked vessels have no place in our oceans and coastal communities. They’re a danger to our natural environment and they take up space in what should be our community hubs. Through the Oceans Protection Plan, our government is funding the removal of 51 abandoned vessels in the Pacific and Maritime regions. That’s on top of the 201 vessels we have removed to date. This is about protecting and preserving our beautiful coastlines so they can be utilized and enjoyed to their potential by Canadians,” said Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
In light of the economic impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada will pay 100% of costs for boat removal assessment projects and for boat removal and disposal projects, for a maximum of $50,000 per project instead of 75% as in previous years.
Launched in November 2016, the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways. This national plan is creating a world-leading marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while protecting our coastlines and clean water for generations to come. This work is being done in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, local stakeholders, and coastal communities.
In 2017, the Government launched two vessel removal programs: Transport Canada’s Abandoned Boats Program and Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Small Craft Harbours Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program for federally owned small craft harbours.
To date, funding through the Abandoned Boats Program has led to the assessment of 109 boat removal projects, and the removal of 112 boats in Canada. Today’s announcement provides funding for an additional 44 boat assessment projects and 51 boat removals across Canada.