Federal Abandoned Vessels Measures Fall Short

OTTAWA– After a decade of advocating for action on abandoned vessels, New Democrats are pleased to see yesterday’s announcement by the Prime Minister, but noted many details were missing, including when legislation will be tabled in the House.

“I’m glad to see the government acknowledge the need to address abandoned vessels that pose a threat to our coasts,” said Sheila Malcolmson, NDP MP for Nanaimo—Ladysmith. “But the Liberal announcement fell well short of a comprehensive plan and has left many questions unanswered.”

Monday’s announcement was silent on any proactive measures that would prevent abandoned vessels from becoming a hazard in the first place. In February, Malcolmson introduced Bill C-219 that would enable the Coast Guard to take preventive action and collect disposal costs from the original owners to reduce the burden on local governments and taxpayers.

“We shouldn’t waste this opportunity to create a truly national system designed to clean up these vessels and wrecks that threaten the environment and economies of coastal communities,” said Malcolmson.

Malcolmson added vessel abandonment is made worse by an absence of a turn-in program to make it easy for owner to dispose of their vessels and the need to expand local salvaging options, including facilities to dispose fiberglass and contaminants, none of which were included in the government’s plan.