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Information: wrecked, abandoned and hazardous vessels

The Canadian Coast Guard has a program that helps to prevent and address wrecked, abandoned and hazardous vessels.

As part of the Oceans Protection Plan, this program is a shared initiative between:

  • Transport Canada
  • Canadian Coast Guard
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada

We work with Transport Canada to administer the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act which brought the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007 into Canadian law.

Program responsibilities

Our program responds to wrecked, abandoned and hazardous vessels, including dilapidated vessels, by:

  • coordinating and conducting hazard assessments for problem vessels in Canadian waters
  • immediately addressing hazardous vessels when necessary
  • ensuring owners properly report, locate, mark and remove wrecks
  • serving as the single federal point of contact for reports of problem vessels
  • ensuring vessel owners comply with Coast Guard provisions under the Act
  • addressing problem vessels located in federal small craft harbours or on other property under our responsibility

For information on Transport Canada’s responsibilities, refer to About the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act.

Types of vessel

A vessel is considered wrecked if it, or one of its parts, is:

  • sunk
  • partially sunk
  • adrift or ashore
  • stranded or grounded

This includes equipment, stores, cargo and any other thing that was onboard the vessel.

A vessel is considered abandoned if the owner can’t be located after reasonable efforts are taken to find them, or if the vessel has been left unattended for 2 or more years. We may consider a vessel as abandoned before the 2 year period with enough supporting evidence.

A vessel is considered hazardous if it could cause harm to:

  • health
  • infrastructure
  • the environment
  • coasts or shorelines
  • personal safety and well-being
  • economic interests of the public

A vessel is considered dilapidated if it’s significantly degraded, dismantled or incapable of being used for safe navigation.

National inventory

We’re developing a national inventory of problem vessels to tell us how many there are across Canada’s coasts and shorelines.

We’ll continuously update the inventory and support it with risk assessments to identify and guide future actions on high-risk vessels.

How we assess risks

The Coast Guard is developing a risk assessment methodology to:

  • assess the level of risk a vessel poses
  • rank vessels in the national inventory by their level of risk and complexity
  • prioritize and undertake appropriate measures to address the highest-risk vessels
  • monitor and help prepare contingency plans for high-risk vessels

In the development process, we’ve been engaging with:

  • Indigenous groups
  • industry stakeholders
  • coastal community stakeholders

These groups are helping us validate the scope and weight of factors informing our methodology, and we’ll continue to engage them for any future refinements. We’ll also engage with affected groups when addressing hazardous vessels in their region.

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