St. Mary’s pursues action on derelict vessels

An eyesore in important tourist area

By Helen Murphy    

MARIE JOSEPH – The District of St. Mary’s has heard complaints about derelict vessels at the harbour in Marie Joseph and is pushing for action to resolve the problem. The issue started in 2011 when the former Canadian Coast Guard Icebreaker, the Sir Charles Tupper, was towed into the harbour, destined for a salvage operation. The vessel remains there today tied against the shoulder of the Number 7 Highway on the main route for tourist traffic into the area.

Concern grew when a second vessel, the Craig Trans was towed into the harbour on June 2, 2017, and tied alongside the Sir Charles Tupper.

In a statement issued June 22, the municipality points out that it has “no jurisdiction over ocean salvage operations or marine environmental issues, but do have concerns regarding the potential risks that these vessels may pose to the surrounding environment and the economic well-being of the area.” The municipality says it has shared those concerns with various departments and agencies within the senior levels of government.

St. Mary’s says it is satisfied that the concern has been heard and that the appropriate government departments/agencies are moving forward with a course of action over the coming weeks to address the risks associated with the situation. The municipality says it will continue to monitor the situation and work with government entities to address the issue as is needed.

Over the past several months there has been increased attention on the issue of derelict vessels in Canada and in particular here in Nova Scotia. An area of focus has been around the MV Farley Mowat and the struggle that the Town of Shelburne has been engaged in getting action taken to remove that potential environmental disaster from their property.

On May 31, the federal government announced the launch of a national, five-year $6.85 million Abandoned Boats Program led by Transport Canada. This program will facilitate the removal of existing smaller high-priority abandoned boats, educate boat owners about their responsibilities, and support research into improving recycling options for boats. Over the next five years, $1.3 million will be available to provide support to Harbour Authorities and other eligible recipients in removing abandoned and wrecked vessels from federally owned commercial fishing harbours and disposing of them.

The government estimates there are 600 abandoned boats across Canada.