Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program: Frequently asked questions

  1. Why is the Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program being put in place?

    The objective of the Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program is to reduce the number of existing abandoned and/or wrecked vessels located in federally owned small craft harbours that pose a risk to the environment, the health and safety of harbour workers and users, and the efficient and effective operation of the harbour.

    In order to address these issues, contribution funding in the amount of $1.3 million over the next 5 years will be available to harbour authorities and other eligible recipients to undertake the removal and disposal of abandoned and wrecked vessels in harbours owned by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

    In addition to financial support, DFO's Small Craft Harbours Program will also be offering guidance to harbour authorities andother organizations responsible for managing federally-owned harbours to help them better manage situations in the future to prevent vessel abandonment.

    Benefits will include enhanced environmental protection, reduced threats to human health and safety, and enhanced economic opportunities (e.g., tourism and fishing activities).

  2. How will this initiative benefit Canada's coastal communities?

    This new initiative will support DFO's mandate of operating and maintaining a national network of safe and accessible harbours that meets the principal and evolving needs of the commercial fishing industry and the broader economic interest of coastal communities. Communities, particularly those which are small and remote, often do not have the resources to cover the costs of vessel removal and disposal. The SCH Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program is designed to address these needs within Small Craft Harbours.

    Ultimately, the number of abandoned and wrecked vessels in small craft harbours will be reduced, thereby supporting the preservation and restoration of Canada's marine ecosystems.

  3. Who can apply to the program?

    This program is primarily geared towards funding the removal of vessels from commercial fishing harbours, in line with Small Craft Harbours' primary mandate of operating and maintaining harbours that are critical to the commercial fishing industry. However, applications for other harbours will be reviewed and considered on a case-by-case basis provided that they meet all of the eligibility criteria.

    Eligible recipients will be:


    To be eligible for funding, the applicant must be removing a vessel that is located in a DFO small craft harbour listed in Schedule I of the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Regulations.

  4. What activities are eligible?

    The Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program supports activities leading to the final disposal of abandoned and wrecked vessels located in SCH commercial fishing harbours as listed in Schedule I of the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Regulations, specifically:

    • activities associated with gaining legal possession of a vessel;
    • activities associated with assessing the risk and cost of removal and disposal of a vessel; and
    • activities to undertake the removal and final disposal of a vessel.

  5. What costs are eligible under the program?

    Eligible expenses under the SCH Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program include:

    • salaries and wages (e.g., Harbour Manager's salary (incremental); hours toward managing the project);
    • travel (e.g., accommodations, vehicle rental and kilometric rates; allowances for meals and incidentals directly related to the project; travel and per diem expenses cannot be more than the rates and allowances determined in the Travel Directive of the National Joint Council);
    • communications services (e.g., newspaper advertisements);
    • insurance;
    • professional services (e.g., assessment of environmental effects, heritage significance, or removal hazards; surveys; legal fees; labour/contract for removal and/or disposal);
    • rental of space and equipment (e.g., vessel storage fees; rental of towing equipment not covered in contractor's costs); and
    • GST/HST.

    All costs must directly support eligible activities.

  6. Will applicants be expected to pay a share of the removal/disposal cost?

    DFO will reimburse up to 100% of the eligible costs associated with gaining legal possession of a vessel and costs associated with assessing the cost of removal and disposal of a vessel, to a maximum of $5,000 per vessel.

    Up to 75% of the eligible costs associated with the removal and disposal of a vessel may be reimbursed by the DFO, to a maximum of $50,000 per vessel. The remaining 25% may be obtained from the applicant and/or other sources through cash or in-kind support.

  7. What kinds of activities constitute in-kind support?

    In-kind contributions involve non-cash goods or services that are provided by interested parties such as the recipients themselves, non-government organizations or other levels of government, in support of a project or initiative. This may include volunteer services, professional services, donation of supplies, equipment, or storage facilities, etc. In-kind contributions are given a monetary value, but are not reimbursable, and may account toward an applicant's share of eligible costs.

  8. Are multi-year projects eligible?

    Yes, the program will fund projects taking place over multiple years. However, all projects must be completed by March 31, 2022.

  9. Is there a maximum number of vessels that can be included in my funding application?

    No, there is no maximum limit for the removal and disposal of abandoned and wrecked vessels from a SCH harbour. However, there is a maximum limit to the amount that is reimbursable per vessel.

  10. Why do I need to be authorized to remove a vessel, and how do I obtain information to do so?

    Legal possession must be obtained prior to taking action. The applicant must be authorized to assess and remove the vessel(s) and provide supporting documentation to ensure that the vessel owner's rights have been respected. Depending on where the vessel is located (water or land), the process to obtain legal possession varies. See the section entitled How do I Remove a Vessel?

  11. What is legal possession and how does it differ from ownership?

    Legal possession is not ownership. Legal possession gives the applicant legal authority to undertake activities related to assessment, removal and disposal of the vessel. The owner will continue to retain liability for the vessel in all circumstances until disposal.

  12. Are surveys mandatory for every vessel? Can I apply for a removal without a survey?

    A survey is not mandatory but highly recommended. A survey will determine estimated removal and disposal costs, special requirements as necessary, and – more importantly – highlight risks posed by the removal, such as environmental impacts. It is in the applicant's best interest to understand the risks and take measures to prevent incidents from occurring during the removal, for which the applicant or the contractor may be held liable. This is why it is also important that the individual(s) responsible for removing or disposing of the vessel are appropriately insured against liabilities.

  13. Where should I send my application?

    Complete applications for funding under the SCH Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program can be sent to one of the following DFO regional offices:

    Pacific Region (British Columbia and Yukon)
    Small Craft Harbours
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    200-401 Burrard St
    Vancouver BC
    V6C 3S4

    Central and Arctic Region (Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut)
    Small Craft Harbours
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    501 University Cr
    Winnipeg MB
    R3T 2N6

    Quebec Region:
    Small Craft Harbours
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    104 Dalhousie St
    Québec QC
    G1K 7Y7

    Maritimes and Gulf Region (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island)
    Small Craft Harbours
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    343 Université
    P.O. Box 5030
    Moncton NB
    E1C 9B6

    Newfoundland and Labrador Region:
    Small Craft Harbours
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    John Cabot Building
    10 Barters Hill
    St. John's NL
    A1C 5X1

  14. What is the application deadline?

    The deadline for applications for projects to be completed in the 2017-18 fiscal year (April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018) is October 2, 2017.

    The deadline for applications for projects to be completed in the 2018-19 fiscal year (April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2019) is March 15, 2018.

    The deadline for applications for projects to be completed in the 2019-2020 fiscal year (April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020) is March 15, 2019.

  15. I don't know who owns the abandoned vessel(s) in my harbour. What do I do?

    In an effort to identify the vessel owner, there are a number of searches that can be performed.

    See the section on the website entitled How do I Remove a Vessel?

  16. The owner of the abandoned/wrecked vessel in my harbour does not want to take responsibility for disposing of it. What do I do?

    If the owner is not willing to take responsibility for the removal and disposal of the vessel, it is recommended that you contact your local DFO regional office to discuss next steps. It is possible that you may need to seek legal counsel in order to proceed. If applying to the program for legal possession, the project plan/timeline will need to account for the extra steps needed to obtain this legal possession (such as a civil court process).

  17. The owner wants to transfer legal possession to a Harbour Authority. What steps are required to do that?

    The owner must sign a consent form in order to transfer legal possession to a Harbour Authority for the purpose of removal and disposal. The form used depends on whether the vessel is in the water or on land. See the section on the website entitled How do I Remove a Vessel? to determine the appropriate form to use.

  18. What is the difference between DFO's Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program and Transport Canada's Abandoned Boats Program?

    The Transport Canada and the DFO funding programs share the objective of removing and disposing of abandoned and wrecked vessels from Canadian waters in order to reduce threats to human health and safety, and the environment, and to enhance economic opportunities such as tourism and fishing activities.

    The key difference between the 2 programs is with respect to the intended applicants: the DFO Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program is intended to fund the removal and disposal of abandoned and/or wrecked vessels in scheduled small craft harbours, whereas the Transport Canada program would apply in all other Canadian waters outside the boundaries of the Small Craft Harbours Program.

  19. How many vessels does DFO expect to see removed from its harbours?

    It is difficult to predict how many vessels will be removed over the next 5 years, as it depends on the number of applications received. However, DFO's program will accommodate the removal of multiple vessels from a harbour, which may be less costly than individual removals, with the expectation that more vessels can be addressed. The final number of vessels will depend on the cost and complexity of the removal, as well as the initiative of the Harbour Authorities to ensure the vessels in their harbours are addressed.

  20. What other steps are being taken to address abandoned and wrecked vessels?

    The key to reducing the number of abandoned and wrecked vessels is to put measures in place to prevent their occurrence in the first place. In addition to the funding program, the SCH Program staff will work with Harbour Authorities to encourage them to implement measures to minimize future risks, and will work with both Transport Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard to ensure that the overall SCH Program contributes to developing long-term solutions for vessels of concern.

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