November 17, 2014
In recent years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of boats, large and small, abandoned to Howe Sound. When a boat owner is tired of paying for moorage and the boat isn’t worth anything for sale or scrap value, they feel okay about abandoning the vessel, making it someone else’s problem.
It’s really not okay. Abandoning a boat is like dropping a tonne of litter all at once. It’s a pollutant, a potential shipping hazard, and it’s a drain on tax dollars when it is finally noticed and cleaned up. It’s also illegal.
In 2013, the Queen of Saanich—a BC Ferry that once traveled the Tsawwassen-Schwartz Bay route—was discovered behind Anvil Island, just out of sight of the Sea-to-Sky Highway. The boat was retired and the BC Ferry Corporation had sold it to a company who planned to scrap it. But once the company had taken what they wanted, they effectively abandoned the ferry to Howe Sound.
Another vessel tied at the south end of Anvil partially sank and eventually broke free. It drifted across Howe Sound and eventually landed near Sunset Beach.
The problem seems to be there are overlapping jurisdictions when it comes to the regulation of derelict or polluting vessels. The Ministry of the Environment, Transport Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard all have different roles to play, depending on whether the boat is causing pollution or is a hazard to shipping or navigation.
The Future of Howe Sound Society is working with coalition partner Marine Life Sanctuaries and good Samaritan John Buchanan to build an inventory of derelict boats around Howe Sound. The Islands Trust Derelict Vessel Advocacy is active under their marine stewardship program. Together, we plan to find a solution.
How you can help
- If you spot an abandoned vessel in Howe Sound, stay clear, collect photos and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.