Receiver of Wreck FAQ

Navigation Protection Program (NPP) officials are designated as the Receivers of Wreck (ROW) and are responsible for administering the provisions of Part 7 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA, 2001).  The key role for the ROW is to act as a custodian of a wreck in the absence of the rightful owner.

A wreck can be a vessel, ship, boat or aircraft, or anything that was part of or was on those craft, that has been wrecked, stranded, in distress, derelict, aground, sunk or partially sunk. 

Any person taking possession of wrecks (i.e. salvaging) must report a found wreck to the local ROW.  Salvors are entitled to reasonable salvage costs and expenses for their efforts.  The owner will pay these expenses.  If the owner cannot be found, the salvage award may be the wreck, or all or part of the proceeds of its sale, but may not exceed the value of the wreck. 

If you have specific questions about the provisions of Part 7 of CSA, 2001, please contact your local ROW listed on our contact page.

Questions about Salvaging Wrecks

Definitions:

Salvage: Saving a ship or its cargo from loss

Salvor: One who saves or assists in saving a ship or its cargo from loss

Question: Who is a Receiver of Wreck?

Answer: A Receiver of Wreck (ROW)  is a person designated by the Minister of Transport to exercise the powers under Part 7 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA, 2001). Currently, Transport Canada's (TC) Navigation Protection Program (NPP) officials are designated as the ROW.

Question: Where is the ROW located?

Answer: ROW officials are located across the country at regional NPP Offices. Contact information for your local ROW can be found at the Navigation Protection Program and Receiver of Wreck page.

Question: What is the role of the ROW?

Answer: The key role for the ROW is to act as a custodian of a wreck in the absence of the rightful owner. In the event that the owner is not found, the ROW, at his or her discretion under the powers of Part 7 of CSA, 2001, may release the wreck to the salvor or dispose of a salvaged wreck by various means (i.e. sell, give away, destroy, etc.).

Question: What is a wreck?

Answer: A wreck can be a vessel, boat or aircraft or anything that was part of or was on those crafts, that has been wrecked, stranded, in distress, derelict, aground, sunk or partially sunk.

Question: Who can salvage a wreck?

Answer: Any person may salvage a wreck. A person reporting and taking possession of a wreck where the owner is not known is considered a "salvor."

Question: What must I do as a salvor when I find and take a wreck?

Answer: The salvor, unless acting on behalf of the owner of a wreck, has an obligation to report the wreck (taken into possession) to the ROW.  The salvor is required to complete a Notice to Receiver of Wreck form. Once the form is completed and submitted, the ROW will provide the salvor with further instructions on the obligations under Part 7 of CSA, 2001.

Question: As a salvor, what are the consequences if I do not report or deliver the wreck to the row?  

Answer: Failure to report or deliver a wreck is an offence under CSA, 2001, and therefore, the salvor would be liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to $100,000 or imprisonment or both.

Question: Can a salvor be compensated for any salvage costs incurred?

Answer: The ROW will determine reasonable salvage costs and expenses for a salvor's efforts. The owner will pay these expenses.

If the owner cannot be found, the salvage award may be the wreck, or all or part of the proceeds of its sale, but may not exceed the value of the wreck.  Determining salvage fees can take 90 days or longer.

Question: What happens to a wreck if the owner is located?

Answer: If the owner is located and successfully claims the wreck, then the ROW is obligated to release the wreck or pay the proceeds of its sale to the owner. However, it is the owner's responsibility to pay the salvor the salvage costs and expenses occurred within reason.

Question: What happens to a wreck if the owner is not located?

Answer: The ROW may release a wreck to the salvor by considering the nature of the award such as the wreck itself, part of the wreck, or all or part of the proceeds of its sale. Under certain circumstances, the ROW may also decide to dispose of the wreck by various means (i.e. sell, give away, destroy, etc.).

Question: Who receives the proceeds from the sale of a wreck?

Answer: Proceeds from the sale of a wreck, less the salvage award, fees and expenses, go to the Receiver General for Canada.

Question: What should a salvor not salvage and why?

Answer: Wrecks of historical or archaeological significance: Do not disturb wrecks that have historical or heritage value to Canadians.  Some wrecks may be legally protected as cultural or heritage resources under provincial, territorial, federal legislation depending on their location.

Wrecks in Protected Areas: Wrecks located in marine protected areas, including municipal, provincial, territorial and federal protected areas such as parks and conservation areas are managed under relevant legislation and policy.  They should not be salvaged or disturbed without appropriate authorization.

Military wrecks: These wrecks should not be touched unless permission is granted, in most cases neither the Canadian nor foreign governments will grant permission to salvors to salvage military wrecks because of the danger associated with unexploded ammunition.  In addition, if there were casualties aboard a military wreck, the Canadian and foreign governments usually consider the wreck a military grave and offer it protection under various legislative authorities.

For more information on historical, archaeological or military wrecks, please visit the Parks Canada.

Question: Where can I obtain additional information?

Answer: For more information on the functions of a ROW and responsibilities of a salvor, please contact your local NPP Office.

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