The Province is Seeking Solutions to Address Abandoned Boats

Hillary Johnson

The province is seeking solutions to address abandoned boats that are filled with garbage and plastics, which sink and discharge the waste. The Dead Boat Disposal Society is trying to fix this issue by pulling out over 60 boats from the water, over the last 3 years. Another 35 boats are on the list to be removed. North Coast MLA, Jennifer Rice says the public input could have a significant impact.
"Right now in British Columbia, our Parliamentary Secretary for Environment, Sheila Malcolmson, is touring around coastal BC meeting with people who live on the coast, use boats on the coast, and getting their ideas on what we can do to prevent pollution in the ocean. You can strip off materials such as wood and wood is easy to recycle, but fibreglass is a difficult product to dispose of so they are exploring ideas about putting that fibreglass into the asphalt and paving roads, so actually, creating an economy and jobs out of a pollution problem."
Rice says Prince Rupert landfill lacks the capacity to take in old vessels, leaving them to sit in harbours or marinas taking up space. It can take over 100 days to get governmental approval to remove some of these boats.
"We have a lot of international and federal laws that actually prevent us from removing those vessels, from burning those vessels. It's very complicated to remove all the different components that cant be burned."
She says it's common that old fishing and recreational vessels are left behind due to the fact that people could no longer afford maintenance and berthing fees, but there is a federal program that could help solve this issue.
"We used to have a federal program called the Ship Breaking Vessel Program so we are looking where we should be working with our federal government partners on bringing back that program to deal with the larger vessels."
The federal government has recently passed a law that incentifies boat owners to deal with unwanted watercrafts. Fines starting from 50 thousand dollars for individuals and 250 thousand dollars for companies, can be assessed for abandoned boats. There are over 1400 boats, identified by the Canadian government, within BC waterways that need to be dealt with to ensure they do not contribute to the growing pollution in our waters.

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