Commercial fishermen, divers and the maritime industry

If you are in commercial operations such as fishing, clamming or dredging, or if you are a commercial or recreational diver or exploration worker, submerged Unexploded Explosive Ordnance (UXO) may present a danger to you, your vessel and its crew.

What is underwater UXO?

Underwater UXO legacy sites are those within 200 nautical miles of our coasts (Canada’s Economic Exclusion Zone), and those in our lakes and rivers.

UXO may be located underwater after:

  • being fired into the water during military training activities
  • being dumped at sea (a practice no longer performed by Canada)
  • a shipwreck or plane crash

It isn’t always easy to determine the level of risk in underwater areas. The sites may have been plotted over fifty years ago using methods that are crude by today’s standards. Tides, wave action and ice may also have caused the UXO to migrate.

The risks

These unexploded bombs may wash up on shore or be caught up in fishing nets, bottom tending gear or dredges.

If you encounter something that could be UXO close to a river, near a lake or on a beach, do not touch or disturb it in any way. Note the location, leave the area and call 9-1-1 or the local police.

If an object that looks like UXO is caught in a net or on a line, consider the object to be explosive and dangerous. Do not attempt to bring it alongside or aboard. The trawl or line should be lowered and then towed clear of regular fishing grounds. Then the net or line should be cut in accordance with the Notice to Mariners.

If it can’t be cut then stream the object as far away as possible and get instructions from the nearest Joint Rescue Centre.

Advice for organizations

Employers and commercial organizations operating on or near a body of water that could contain UXO should:

  • be aware of the plotted or known locations of UXO sites in their area
  • contact us before beginning any underwater work in an area that is known or suspected to contain UXO;
  • ensure everyone at the work site knows what UXO looks like knows what to do if it is encountered; and
  • provide up to date information on known hazards to everyone at the work site.

Advice for individuals

Anyone who may be working on or near a body of water that could contain UXO should:

  • know about the UXO hazards where you are working
  • know the procedures in the event that UXO is encountered
  • never approach, touch or move suspicious objects by bringing them on board or on shore
  • stay alert and exercise caution 


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