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Wrecked, abandoned or hazardous vessels program information

Wrecked, abandoned or hazardous vessels can be found on all of Canada’s coasts. These vessels are a serious problem, posing safety, environmental and economic concerns across the country. The Government of Canada has a national strategy to address existing problem vessels and prevent new ones.

Under the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act, the Canadian Coast Guard works to address the hazards posed by these vessels of concern. Such cases can come along suddenly, requiring an immediate response like when there is a vessel collision or grounding. Other cases are created over time such as a slowly deteriorating vessel in a harbour.

When a problem vessel is reported to the Canadian Coast Guard, it is:

  • assessed for its level of risk;
  • reported to partners; and,
  • added to the national inventory.

Problem vessels across the country are addressed in order of priority, based on their level of risk. If any of these vessels pollute or threaten to imminently pollute, the Canadian Coast Guard acts quickly to protect the environment. For more information, visit our environmental response page.

The Government of Canada can address a vessel in a number of ways; for example, repairing a vessel to prevent pollution or danger to the public, or disposing of a vessel. There are several reasons why a vessel might not be entirely removed; for example, it could cause more damage to the marine environment if disturbed.

The Canadian Coast Guard is responsible for:

  • coordinating and conducting hazard assessments for problem vessels in Canadian waters, in consultation with appropriate partners;
  • mitigating hazards posed by vessels;
  • ensuring owners properly report, locate, mark and remove wrecks;
  • serving as the single federal point of contact for reports of problem vessels; and,
  • ensuring vessel owners comply with Canadian Coast Guard provisions under the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act.

Under the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act, the Government of Canada can:

  • direct owners of vessels to take measures to prevent, reduce or eliminate hazards;
  • take actions to address hazardous vessels; and,
  • hold owners of vessels liable for the costs of addressing their hazardous vessels.

Addressing problem vessels in Canada is a shared responsibility between federal, provincial, territorial and local governments, as well as Indigenous partners and the public.

Some federal partners and their responsibilities include:

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