WATCH: The federal government has introduced a new bill to help deal with the issue of derelict vessels. In Ladysmith, where derelict and abandoned vessels have been a real problem, the news is being welcomed. Kendall Hanson reports.
Crews are getting set to raise the Anapaya.
The 90-foot wooden boat, built in 1918, sank 10 days ago and was leaking fuel.
Some argue it is a problem that could have been dealt with long ago.
“It could’ve been removed, I’m going to guess, at least one-tenth of the cost of what it’s going to cost to bring it up but the fund that could’ve been accessed wasn’t accessed,” said Rod Smith, executive director of the Ladysmith Maritime Society. “So now this environmental emergency fund kicks in.”
Transport Canada listed it as a vessel of concern in 2014.
But according to those monitoring Ladysmith Harbour, they did nothing to prevent it’s sinking.
It’s the latest in the string of derelict boats in the harbour that causes a lot of concern because of oils and fuels still onboard.
“It’s an ongoing issue that threatens our operation and certainly the environmental health of the harbour,” said Smith.
On Tuesday the federal government introduced a new act that will make it illegal to abandon derelict boats.
The bill requires large commercial ships to have insurance to cover the potential cost of their disposal.
It also introduces fines and jail terms for those abandoning vessels.
“My immediate reaction is it looks promising,” said Smith. “It looks like they’ve given this some thought and they have a process in place that will enhance the bill.”
Rod Smith has been invited to take part in the public consultation that will help shape the finalized bill.
He says he’s not sure it addresses medium-sized ships that are more common in the Ladysmith Harbour.
Ladysmith sailor Rob Pinkerton has been following the issue for years.
“The problems I think are a little beyond that legislation,” said Pinkerton. “You can’t get money out of a stone. If somebody doesn’t have any assets and you want to bring them to task for fouling your water or sinking a boat if they have no assets what can you do?”
The legislation does not apply to boats that have already been abandoned.
When Transport Canada removed the Vicki Lynn II from Ladysmith Harbour last October it cost a million dollars.
The Anapaya is next. It is expected to be raised in the next few days and there is hope here that getting rid of abandoned vessels will only get easier in the future.