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New Act Aims to Prevent Abandoned Vessels in Canada

A new law affecting boat owners comes into effect on July 30th.

The Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act is legislation intended to hold owners accountable for their boats when it is no longer considered a sea-worthy vessel.

It is a federal law that falls under the Government of Canada’s $1.5 billion Ocean’s Protection Plan. The act will strengthen requirements for vessel owner responsibility and liability aimed to stem irresponsible vessel management and preventing people from abandoning their small boats or commercial vessels.

The law hopes to prevent boat owners from abandoning their vessel, causing it to become a wreck from lack of maintenance, to sink or strand the boat on a body of water,  or leave their vessel in poor condition in the same area (within a radius of three nautical miles) for more than 60 days. It will also be illegal to allow a boat to drift for more than 48 hours without attempting to control it.

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The act is important in large part for the protection of the environment. Abandoned boats can have toxic fluids such as fuel, oil, and battery acids leech into the water table. A boat not properly stowed on land can also be unstable and topple onto someone.

In the water, an untended boat is a navigation hazard as well as a pollution concern. A boat left adrift at night could cause a serious crash in the dark.

Transport Canada’s website offers up some tips on how to properly dispose of a boat at the end of its useful life

  • Find a boat recycling facility in your area
  • Search for charities or companies in your region that may want your boat

  • Ask the nearest landfill operator if they accept old boats

  • Ask local boat retailers if they take old boats in trade

If selling a boat it must have all the proper registration papers, otherwise, if the new owner decides to abandon it, the previous owner may become responsible for clean-up and disposal under the new legislation.

Written by Doug Crosse

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