Feds kill proposed derelict vessel bill

A BC MP’s proposed legislation giving the Coast Guard the regulatory power it needs to take action against derelict and abandoned vessels in B.C.’s coastal waters was rejected today by the federal government.

Bill C-638, an Act to Amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (Wrecks), was introduced in the House as a Private Member’s bill by MP for Nanaimo-Cowichan, Jean Crowder. The objectives and purposes of C-638 were to:

  • obligate the government to act when derelict vessels are abandoned
  • strengthen the requirements relating to derelict vessels and wreck by ensuring that regulations are made to establish measures to be taken for their removal, disposition or destruction.
  • provide that the Canadian Coast Guard shall be designated as a receiver of wreck for the purposes of Part 7 of the Act, and requires receivers of wreck to take reasonable steps to determine and locate the owners of the wreck.

“The federal government’s decision to reject C-638 is extremely disappointing”, says Christianne Wilhelmson, executive director for Georgia Strait Alliance (GSA). “Derelict and abandoned vessels in our coastal waters are a safety hazard, visual eyesore, and release fuel and other toxins into the marine environment, putting marine life and habitat at risk.”

According to Wilhelmson, the biggest challenge involved in mitigating the impacts of derelict and abandoned vessels is the jurisdictional quagmire that surrounds them. No provincial or federal ministry is taking ownership of the problem, despite repeated local government and community appeals for leadership.

“GSA is committed to advocating for action against derelict and abandoned vessels in our waters”, says Wilhelmson. “We encourage BC boaters to adopt green boating solutions, but real change on this issue must happen at the government level.”

Of note, one member of the government, John Weston, the MP for West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country, voted in favour of the motion.

Formed in 1990, Georgia Strait Alliance is the only citizens’ group working to protect and restore the marine environment and promote the sustainability of Georgia Strait, its adjoining waters and communities, the place where 75% of British Columbians live, work and play.

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For more information, contact:

Christianne Wilhelmson, Executive Director
(604) 862-7579, christianne@georgiastrait.org