Navigation Protection Program

From: Transport Canada

The Navigation Protection Program (NPP) helps keep Canada’s navigable waters open for transport and recreation. The program administers the Canadian Navigable Waters Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act.

As per the Canadian Navigable Waters Act, navigable water means a body of water, including a canal or any other body of water created or altered as a result of the construction of any work, that is used by vessels, in full or in part, for any part of the year as a means of transport or travel for commercial or recreational purposes, or as a means of transport or travel for Indigenous peoples of Canada exercising rights recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and

  • there is public access, by land or by water;
  • there is no such public access but there are two or more riparian owners; or
  • The only riparian owner is either the Federal Government or a Provincial Government.

The definition of navigable water does not include artificial irrigation channels or drainage ditches.

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Program responsibilities

The program:

  • approves and sets terms and conditions for works in navigable waters;
  • assesses navigable waters for additions to the Schedule;
  • manages obstructions in navigable waters;
  • enforces the regulations for private buoys;
  • addresses irresponsible vessel management;
  • provides authorization to people to salvage, remove or dispose of abandoned boats; and
  • enforces rules against dewatering (removing water from) or depositing materials into navigable waters.

Review the Apply to the NPP webpage if you plan to construct, place, alter, remove or decommission a work in, on, over, under, through or across any navigable water in Canada.

Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels (Problem Vessels)

The Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act (WAHVA) 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 Navigation Protection Program’s role regarding problem vessels is to monitor compliance and enforce the irresponsible management provisions of the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act in all Canadian waters and the exclusive economic zone of Canada. The program is also responsible for the Receiver of Wreck provisions.

Transport Canada’s Abandoned Boats Program (ABP) provides funding to remove abandoned boats and wrecks that are hazards in Canadian waters. To qualify for ABP funding, applicants must first get authorization from the NPP to take possession of a boat.

To find out whether a craft meets the criteria and to apply for permission to remove and dispose of it, or to report a wreck to the Receiver of Wreck, contact an NPP regional office.

For boats and wrecks in commercial fishing harbours, consult the Small Craft Harbours Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Learn more about WAHVA.

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