June 23, 2020

Damaged BoatPhoto Credit: Sam Burkhart

For decades, abandoned boats have increasingly littered our coastal shorelines and waterways, posing an environmental and safety risk. As concerns mounted, Boating BC Association was among those advocating action, and we were pleased when Transport Canada made the important decision three years ago to establish the national Abandoned Boats Program.
 
One key aspect of the Program involves the identification, removal and disposal of abandoned vessels. However, other important components include establishing partnerships with associations like ours to carry out an education and awareness program, reminding boaters it is their responsibility to dispose of their boat responsibly when the time comes, and to provide a data base of boat disposal services across the province.
 
In the coming weeks, Boating BC will launch year-three of our effort to educate the boating public about this important issue. We are proud to be involved in a partnership that involves some concrete actions and one that is also demonstrating some encouraging results. To date our campaign has reached a cumulative audience of more than 15 million people and we experienced more than 13,000 direct visits to our web page dedicated to the issue of abandoned boats.
 
Through Transport Canada’s efforts, 111 boats have been approved for removal in this province, positively impacting many BC communities including those on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands which are amongst the most affected. We also know anecdotally, that many people have utilized our website database of boat disposal resources to manage the process themselves.

We know the vast majority of boaters are responsible, but not all. For those who willingly abandon their vessel, the passage of Bill-64, the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessel Act, now makes it illegal to abandon a boat in Canada, increasing owner responsibility, liability and the potential for penalties.
 
While progress has been made, there remains significant work ahead and we will continue our efforts. We’re thankful for our many partners in the boating sector and Transport Canada for their collective efforts to address this important issue, and for their continued commitment.
 
We encourage readers to visit www.boatingbc.ca/boatdisposal to learn more about the issue of abandoned boats, boat disposal options and details about our campaign.

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