Newspaper article The Canadian Press

MP Says Not Enough Being Done to Deal with Abandoned Vessels on Canada's Coasts

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

MP Says Not Enough Being Done to Deal with Abandoned Vessels on Canada's Coasts

Article excerpt

NDP member wants action on abandoned vessels

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HALIFAX - A British Columbia MP is pressing Ottawa to do more to deal with the hundreds of abandoned vessels that blight Canada's coasts and harbours, despite a new federal program announced last month.

New Democrat Sheila Malcolmson brought her campaign to Nova Scotia on Tuesday, where money and years of effort have been spent dealing with such high-profile cases as the MV Miner in Cape Breton and the MV Farley Mowat in Shelburne.

Malcolmson said that as things stand, it appears abandoned vessels will still largely remain a problem that is often left to municipal and provincial governments.

"We have a real legal hole in Canada," she said. "Other countries and other states have fixed the abandoned vessel problem, but this is costing coastal communities on all three coasts big time."

Malcolmson has tabled a bill she said would address the legal hole by fixing vessel registration, piloting a vessel turn-in program and supporting local salvagers and vessel recycling.

She said the bill would also make the coast guard responsible for directing the removal of all abandoned vessels.

Setting areas of clear responsibility is key, said the member for Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

"I think the real failing that we've got right now is that there's no process and there's no one single-point ministry, and my legislation is intended to fill that gap," said Malcolmson.

She said she modelled her initiative on legislation already long in place in American states, like Washington and Oregon.

The Washington state program pools state and federal money together for emergency response and an advanced registration system helps officials track down owners in order to make them responsible for the bill, Malcolmson said. Harbour masters can also obtain purchase orders that can help prevent derelict vessels from sinking.

"If you can get it before it goes down, your costs are minuscule compared to the calamity of the inevitable oil spills that result from abandoned vessels. …

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