Abandoned Dreams

Breaking up a boat at Shelter Island Marina.

Feds Propose Bill to Deal with Derelict and Abandoned Vessels

Derelict and abandoned vessels are an eyesore—but more importantly, they pose environmental and safety risks. To deal with the issue, the federal government has brought forward Bill C-64; an act respecting wrecks, abandoned, dilapidated or hazardous vessels and salvage operations. Among other things the act will establish an administration and enforcement scheme to penalize boat owners who dump unwanted boats.

To educate boat owners about the new rules, the Boating BC Association has been provided with a $50,000 grant for the development of an educational campaign. “Boating BC sees the opportunity to educate recreational boaters and the recreational boating industry – and increase awareness of the responsibility to manage their vessel through to the end of its life,” says association president Don Prittie. “We know the vast majority of boaters are responsible, but not all—and we need to ensure this issue is not a recurring one. Step-one is educating and holding boat owners accountable for their vessels and ensuring they know how and where they can dispose of them.”

While most stakeholders agree that illegal abandonment of vessels is an issue—an estimated 700 to 1,000 derelict wrecks litter the BC Coast, some question the efficacy of fines for those who don’t comply. Boat owners may be more inclined to sell their boats off for cheap, or give them away to unwitting new owners, rather than pay for disposal. While other owners of end-of-life boats may simply be too financially strapped to pay for disposal. Meanwhile those who live aboard older, less-attractive boats worry this will simply be another method of targeting them.

The education plan, which will roll out in early spring, will include the education component as well as a database of boat disposal options. What it probably will not answer is the question of who will pay for the disposal of the region’s most at risk vessels.