Minister Jordan highlights the passage of Bill C-64: the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act to address vessel abandonment and ensure owner accountability
March 5, 2019 Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Wrecked, abandoned, and hazardous vessels, including small boats, pose environmental, economic, and safety hazards, and are a concern for coastal and inland water communities across Canada. The Government of Canada, through its Oceans Protection Plan, has been taking action to deter this irresponsible practice. Today, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Rural Economic Development, is pleased to mark the passage last week of Bill C-64: the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act.
The Act prohibits vessel abandonment and brings into Canadian law the International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007. It increases owner liability for vessels, addresses irresponsible vessel management, and enables the Government of Canada to remove problem vessels. Not complying with the Act now 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 $1M for individuals and $6M for companies or corporations.
As part of the National Strategy to Address Canada’s Wrecked and Abandoned Vessels, the Government launched two short-term funding programs in 2017 to support coastal communities and other eligible recipients in removing and disposing high-priority, smaller vessels: Transport Canada’s Abandoned Boats Program, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program. Transport Canada’s program also supports education and awareness activities and research on vessel recycling and design. Other measures being undertaken by the Government of Canada as part of the National Strategy include improving vessel owner identification, creating an inventory of vessels and assessing their risks, and establishing a polluter pays approach for vessel clean-up.
Launched in November 2016, the five-year, $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways. Over the past two years, the Government of Canada has invested in hundreds of projects that are making the marine safety system stronger, and protecting coastal environments and marine species more than ever. Based on the latest science and technology, Indigenous partnerships and collaboration, these projects bring us closer to healthier, cleaner and safer oceans.
“As someone from a coastal community, I am particularly happy our government is taking steps to address the important issue of wrecked, abandoned and hazardous vessels. This legislation will have a direct and positive impact in rural and smaller communities like mine, by shifting the burden away from Canadian taxpayers and toward a polluter pays approach.“
The Honourable Bernadette Jordan
Minister of Rural Economic Development
“We are proud to see the passage of this significant legislation, which will enable us to better protect our coastlines by requiring responsible vessel management and prohibiting vessel abandonment. Canada’s coastlines are an important part of Canadian life and culture, and we must work together to protect and restore them.”
The Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport
"Abandoned and wrecked vessels can pose hazards, clutter our shorelines, affect sensitive marine habitats and species, and disrupt community activities. This strengthened legislation ensures these problems are addressed quickly, before they become more serious. With the Oceans Protection Plan, we are taking action so that our coasts and oceans will be safe, clean and healthy for future generations."
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Transport Canada’s Abandoned Boats Program is investing $6.85 million for abandoned boat assessment, removal and disposal, and for research and education initiatives. Since May 31, 2017, the program has launched three calls for proposals for projects to be funded through grants and contributions, the most recent of which remains open until March 31, 2019. To date, funding has been approved to assess 87 boats for a total of $267,560, and to remove 44 boats for a total of $597,993.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program is providing up to $1.325 million over five years to Harbour Authorities and other eligible recipients to remove and dispose of abandoned and wrecked vessels located in federal small craft harbours. To date, 23 vessels have been removed and disposed of across the country, and funding has been awarded to gain possession which could lead to the removal of an additional 11 vessels, under the program.
Other Oceans Protection Plan legislative amendments received Royal Assent on December 13, 2018, as part of the fall Budget Implementation Act. These significant changes to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the Marine Liability Act deliver on commitments made under the Oceans Protection Plan to enable the Government to respond to marine pollution incidents faster and more effectively, and to better protect marine ecosystems and habitats. They will enable greater collaboration and partnership with Indigenous people in the delivery of marine safety in Canada. We look forward to working with our partners to develop the regulations, programs and policies required to implement these changes.
Transport Canada, Ottawa
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