Crowder wants swift action on derelict vessels

Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder provides an update on her campaign around derelict vessels in her monthly column.

As part of my campaign around derelict vessels, I recently wrote to the Minister of Transport to encourage her to take swift action on dealing with this growing threat in our coastal areas.

This was her reply, edited for space:

“As you noted in your letter, Transport Canada’s key recommendation in its 2012 report entitled Study of the Extent of Abandoned and Derelict Vessels in Canada was to develop an inter-jurisdictional working group. Following the study, the Department convened a meeting of federal agencies with interests in managing abandoned and derelict vessels. These agencies included Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada and the Office of the Administrator of the Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund. Representation from Transport Canada included Programs and Marine Safety and Security.

A preliminary list of proposed activities has since been prepared that could culminate in an approach for managing the monitoring and removal of derelict and abandoned vessels, preventing of future cases and exploring funding considerations.

On July 30, 2013, Transport Canada officials met with provincial agencies in British Columbia to discuss issues related to abandoned and derelict vessels. The meeting was to discuss the size and scale of the issue and associated remediation challenges; roles and responsibilities of the various jurisdictions; current efforts underway; possible options going forward; and ways to engage two key municipal governmental organizations that are involved in this issue, namely the Islands Trust and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.

Departmental officials will meet with other federal officials to discuss the outcomes of that meeting. Collectively, federal agencies will prepare options for a federal approach for consideration by senior officials in the fall 2013.

On July 31, 2013, Transport Canada officials met with officials from the State of Washington to learn about its abandoned and derelict vessels program, which has been in place for the past 10 years and which resulted in the remediation of approximately 500 vessels. Departmental officials will consider aspects of that program for application in a Canadian context.

Lastly, as part of its work on the Marine Policy Review, Transport Canada will be further analyzing wider policy options related to derelict, abandoned and wrecked vessels, including legal authorities and governance models.”

It was heartening to see that the work of our local councillors through the UBCM and the work of members of the Islands Trust are being recognized as key to dealing with this issue.

I would like to encourage all those concerned with derelict vessels in our waters to write directly to the Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, either by e-mail at lisa.raitt@parl.gc.ca or by regular mail at House of Commons, Ottawa Ontario, K1A 0A6, to let her know that many residents share these concerns and want swift action.