The Canadian Coast Guard’s Compliance and Enforcement Program


Vessel owners have a key part to play in maintaining their vessels in good working order so as not to become hazardous. In 2019, the Government of Canada passed Bill C-64: the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act (the Act) to address vessel abandonment and ensure owner accountability. The Act is a key part of the Government of Canada’s $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, launched in 2016.

The Act prohibits vessel abandonment and brings into law the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007. It increases owner responsibility and liability for vessels, addresses irresponsible vessel management, and enables the Government of Canada to address wrecked, abandoned and hazardous vessels, including by removing them.

The Canadian Coast Guard is responsible, along with Transport Canada, for implementing, monitoring and ensuring compliance with the Act. This is why the Canadian Coast Guard now has a new Compliance and Enforcement program. The Act provides the Canadian Coast Guard with the authority to ensure vessel owners address and are responsible for their vessels when they become hazardous, for example by posing threats to the environment.

Vessels owners are responsible for maintaining their vessels in good working order, and properly disposing of them when they reach the end of their life. The Canadian Coast Guard works closely with vessel owners to address their problem vessels. The Compliance and Enforcement program is responsible for ensuring that vessel owners are held liable for the costs of addressing their hazardous vessels. If a vessel owner fails to address their problem vessel in accordance with the Act, the Canadian Coast Guard can issue a fine, in the form of an Administrative Monetary Penalty.

Not complying with the Act can result in penalties of up to $50,000 for individuals and $250,000 for companies or corporations, while regulatory offence prosecution could result in a maximum fine of $1 million for individuals, and/or up to 3 years of jail, and $6 million for companies or corporations.

Only when other avenues have been exhausted will the Canadian Coast Guard issue a fine. The amount of the fine depends on the nature and severity of the case, and the owner’s actions to date.


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