SHELBURNE - Bernadette Jordan’s calls for a federal role in solving the problem of abandoned ships are getting louder.
“Two towns in the riding of South Shore-St. Margaret’s have been struggling with a revolving door of large abandoned vessels for years,” the South Shore-St. Margaret’s MP said in a March 2 press release.
The most recent example of the problem locally is Farley Mowat, which arrived in Shelburne in the fall of 2014.
The shell of the vessel was towed into the harbour after being forced from its former berth in Lunenburg by an eviction notice from the Waterfront Development Corporation in Lunenburg.
Farley Mowat sank in 2015, costing the federal government $500,000 to have the Canadian Coast Guard raise the vessel and perform extensive environmental cleanup.
The town says no wharfage fees were ever paid.
But Shelburne’s issue is not an isolated one. There are more than 600 abandoned vessels on Canadian waterways and Jordan wants to put a stop to it.
She has tabled a private member’s motion in the House of Commons calling on the federal government to take action on the issue of derelict and abandoned vessels.
The M-40 motion proposes legislative changes to prohibit the abandonment of a vessel, suggests an educational component on responsible vessel ownership, recommends improving vessel registration and ownership identification and calls on the government to assist in the removal of abandoned vessels in cases where its presence creates an economic burden on a community.
Jordan also suggests Canada sign on to the International Marine Organization’s Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks.
The MP says she wants to make the language around derelict vessels, as well as the laws, clearer.
“Recognize the requirement for the prohibition against the abandonment of a vessel through potential amendments to any relevant legislation,” reads the motion.
“Meetings with municipal officials and a town hall with the public early in the year highlighted what many perceive to be a legislative loophole.”
Currently, the federal government can only intervene in cases where an abandoned vessel is a threat to public safety, an environmental hazard or blocking a navigable waterway. Otherwise, most cases can only be brought before a civil court.
“I have witnessed the effect of these large abandoned vessels on public morale over the years and understand the very real economic burden they have as well,” said Jordan. “This is a great opportunity for the federal government to take leadership on what has long been a thorn in the side of coastal communities across Canada.”