About The Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act

From: Transport Canada

The Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act (WAHVA or the Act) aims to protect coastal and shoreline communities, the environment and infrastructure.

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Mandate

Transport Canada mandate

Transport Canada monitors compliance and enforces the irresponsible management provisions of the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act in all Canadian waters and the exclusive economic zone of Canada.

Authorities under WAHVA

Under the Act, Transport Canada activities focus on:

  • Issuing insurance certificates and verifying compliance with insurance or other financial securities related to the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007 as required in Part 1;
  • Overseeing and enforcing the International Convention on Salvage, 1989 (Part 3) and the Receiver of Wreck (Part 4) provisions;
  • Taking appropriate actions on dilapidated vessels that are left on federal Crown property, except for property that falls under the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard;
  • Selling, destroying or otherwise disposing of abandoned vessels; and,
  • Enforcing irresponsible vessel management prohibitions found in Part 2.

Under the Act, the Canadian Coast Guard activities focus on:

  • Addressing all vessels and wrecks, including those that pose or may pose a hazard in all Canadian waters and in the exclusive economic zone of Canada (i.e. between 12 and 200 nautical miles from Canada’s coastline);
  • Coordinating and conducting hazard assessments on vessels and wrecks wherever located, including conducting enforcement actions;
  • Enforcing the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007 in Canadian waters and the exclusive economic zone of Canada. Specifically, ensuring that wrecks are properly reported, located, marked and removed by the owner, as required in Part 1, and to take necessary measures if the owner is unknown, unable or unwilling to act; and
  • Taking appropriate actions on dilapidated vessels that are left on property under the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

The Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act

The Act is a key measure under the Government’s $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan which aims to protect Canada’s waterways and marine ecosystem.

The legislation governs wrecked, abandoned and hazardous vessels (problem vessels) and establishes a compliance and enforcement regime. The Act will improve vessel owner responsibility and liability; address irresponsible vessel management, including a ban on vessel abandonment; and enhance federal powers to take proactive action on hazardous vessels.

The Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007, which will come into law in Canada through the Act, makes vessel owners strictly liable for the costs of removing wrecks, if it’s determined that they pose a hazard to the environment, local economy, safety of navigation or Canada’s coastlines. It does so by requiring owners of vessels 300 gross tonnes and above to maintain and carry proof of insurance capable of covering the potential costs related to wreck removal, as well as any losses that might be claimed as a result of the wreck.

Responsible Vessel Management

When boating in Canada's waterways or along its coastlines, you may see wrecks and abandoned vessels. These abandoned vessels and wrecks can pose a number of problems. A wreck or an abandoned vessel can prevent other vessels from enjoying the use and navigation of a waterway. Problem vessels near public areas can pose a safety risk and pose a hazard to public health and infrastructure. To help protect the environment, local economies and public health and safety, is it important that every vessel owner knows how to be a responsible boat owner.

What is not allowed

Under this Act, you may not:

  • Abandon your vessel.
  • Cause your vessel to become a wreck because you fail to maintain it.
  • Sink, strand or ground your vessel on purpose.
  • Leave your vessel in poor condition in the same area for more than 60 consecutive days within a radius of 3 nautical miles without the authorization of the location owner.
  • Leave your vessel adrift for more than 48 hours without taking measures to secure it.
  • Take possession of a wreck before reporting it to the Receiver of Wreck, unless:
    • The wreck is in danger and you need to take possession to secure or otherwise protect it; or
    • The Receiver of Wreck authorizes you to take possession.
  • Enter into Canada with a wreck found outside of Canadian waters without reporting it to the Receiver of Wreck as early as possible.

Powers of the Federal Government

Under the Act, the Federal Government can:

  • Order owners of vessels or wrecks to take measures to prevent, reduce or eliminate hazards.
  • Take action to remove a vessel or wreck posing hazards, if the owner is unknown, or is unable or unwilling to respond.
  • Order owners of vessels to address their worn-down (dilapidated) vessel if they remained in the same location for 60 consecutive days without the consent of a person in charge of the location where the vessel is located.
  • Hold the owners of vessels liable for the costs of moving or removing their vessel that is abandoned, worn-down, or that poses or may pose a hazard.

Penalties for non-compliance

For minor violations, the maximum penalty is $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for vessels or any persons (including corporations).

For serious violations, the maximum penalty is $50,000 for individuals and $250,000 for vessels or any persons (including corporations).

A regulatory offence prosecution for certain offences could result in a maximum fine of $1 million and/or up to 3 years of imprisonment for an individual, or up to $6 million for vessels or any persons (including corporations).

Reporting Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels (Problem Vessels)

Contact information for Canadian Coast Guard Single Window

The Canadian Coast Guard serves as the single federal point of contact for reports of problem vessels.

To report wrecked, abandoned or hazardous vessels, contact the Canadian Coast Guard, available 24/7:

  • Atlantic (NB, PEI, NL, NS): 1-800-565-1633
  • Central and Arctic (ON, QC, Arctic): 1-800-363-4735
  • Western (BC, AB, SK, MN): 1-800-889-8852

Contact information for Receiver of Wreck

You want to import, salvage, and claim or take possession of a found wreck?

Contact your region’s Receiver of Wreck:

  • Atlantic (NB, PEI, NL, NS): 506-851-3113
  • Prairies and Arctic (AB, SK, MB, Arctic): 780-495-8215
  • Ontario: 519-383-1863
  • Québec: 1-877-646-6420
  • Pacific (BC): 604-775-8867

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