New Abandoned Vessel Act Worth Watching

Transport Canada issued a news release on October 30: Government of Canada marks the one-year anniversary of the Oceans Protection Plan and introduces the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act

It makes for interesting reading.

Who can complain about a plan to “improve environmental protections and increase economic opportunities through tourism and fishing”.

I’m not complaining right now, but for any government plan the devil is in the details, so we will have to closely monitor how this develops.

Preventing abandoned vessels is something we can all support provided the expense and burden of enforcement is not shifted exclusively to the majority of responsible boaters.

Most pleasure boats have insurance in effect that would cover the cost of wreck removal and pollution remediation, if there was an accident. Abandoned boats almost never have insurance and they are the problem so how is the government going to tackle this issue?

Transport Minister Marc Garneau has said that he will be establishing a better system for licensing and registration for pleasure craft.

Better for whom, is my first question.

Does the government plan to make boat insurance mandatory and create an annual renewal for boat licenses? These types of initiatives can be very costly so watch out for an annual license with new fees that will be paid by the majority.

Improving the environment and increasing tourism does not exclusively benefit boat owners so they should not be expected to shoulder the full cost of this initiative. The next phase will be assessing the problem.

Anecdotally I don’t see this as a big problem in the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec or the Atlantic Provinces. Abandoned pleasure boats in these regions are usually on shore which reduces the risk and cost of wreck removal. However, I do recognize there is a problem in BC.  The assessment phase will reveal the scale and location of the problem so I welcome that news.

I will keep an open mind as this moves through consultation, committees and legislative phases.

Boaters also need to watch this development very closely. I will also commit to maintaining contact with boating associations across Canada as well as the NMMA Canada who consults with the federal government on behalf of all boaters.

~ Andrew Robertson
Senior Vice President, Skippers’ Plan

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