Abandoned boats and wrecks

From: Transport Canada

The Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act will be coming into force on July 30th, 2019.

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

The Act governs wrecked, abandoned and hazardous vessels (including small boats and commercial vessels) and brings the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007 into Canadian law. Most importantly, the Act will strengthen vessel owner responsibility and liability; address irresponsible vessel management, including a prohibition on vessel abandonment; and enhance federal powers to take proactive action on hazardous vessels.

The Act will make it illegal for vessel owners and operators to:

  1. Abandon their unwanted vessel.
  2. Cause their vessel to become a wreck because they fail to maintain it.
  3. Sink, strand or ground their vessel on purpose.
  4. Without being authorized, leave their vessel in poor condition in the same area (within a radius of three nautical miles) for more than 60 days.
  5. Leave their vessel adrift for more than 48 hours without taking measures to secure it.

For more information please consult the legislation on the Department of Justice website: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/AnnualStatutes/2019_1/page-1.html

(This webpage will be updated when the Act comes into force on July 30th, 2019)

Learn what to do in case you find an abandoned boat or wreck and what to do if you want to keep it.

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Why are abandoned boats and wrecks a problem?

When boating in Canada's waterways or along its coastlines, you may see abandoned boats and wrecks. These abandoned boats and wrecks can pose a number of problems. They could block other boats from passing or boaters may not see them in time to avoid a crash. They may leak and pollute the water and harm people. If they are near public areas, they can pose safety issues.

If you find an abandoned boat or wreck

The first step if you find an abandoned boat or wreck is to determine who to tell. This depends if the boat is causing a threat to public safety, the environment or navigation.

The boat or wreck poses an immediate and serious threat to public safety

If there is a threat to safety such as a fire, explosion or suspicious activity:

  • Call Local Police or 911

The boat or wreck poses a potential, actual or immediate threat to the environment

If there is a threat to the environment, such as leaking oil:

  • Call the Canadian Coast Guard – all lines are open 24 hours a day

    Newfoundland/Labrador: 1-800-563-9089
    New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island: 1-800-565-1633
    Quebec: 1-800-363-4735
    Ontario, Nunavut: 1-800-265-0237
    British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Northwest Territories: 1-800-889-8852

The boat or wreck poses a potential, actual or immediate threat to navigation

If there is a threat to safe navigation (because it makes navigation dangerous or blocks other boats from a passage)

If you want to keep an abandoned boat or salvage a wreck

Taking possession of an abandoned boat before it becomes a wreck saves time and money. However, if the boat or wreck has heritage or military value, don’t touch it. Contact the Transport Canada regional office closest to where you live.

If you find and want an abandoned boat or wreck that doesn’t have heritage or military value:

  1. Contact the owner if you know them
  2. Use these tips to locate the owner if you don’t know them

If you can’t find the owner, contact Transport Canada for information and help.

For more information about claiming wrecks, please visit our Receiver of Wreck frequently asked questions page.

Abandoned Boats Program

It is possible that you may require financial assistance to properly dispose of an abandoned boat or salvage a wreck. You may be eligible for the Abandoned Boats Program (ABP) which provides federal funding for the removal and disposal of abandoned and/or wrecked small boats, for education and awareness activities, and for research on boat recycling and design.

Learn about the Abandoned Boats Program.

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