What Can You Do If You Find Abandoned Boats in Ontario?

abandoned boats ontario

As a boat owner and nature enthusiast, you have a basic obligation to do what you can to protect the environment. Chances are you are familiar with how to keep your emissions at safe levels, you clean your vessel regularly, and you refrain from littering the water with trash and refuse. Sometimes, however, you can find yourself in a situation where you need to act on someone else’s negligence. If, for example, you come across abandoned boats in Ontario, there is a process that you should follow.

Any time you venture out on the water, you should be prepared to face the unexpected. You can account for the weather or sudden mechanical malfunctions, but you may not have a plan for what to do when you come across a nuisance boat. Understanding how you can navigate this process will afford you a savvy bit of know-how should you find yourself in such a circumstance. 

Abandoned Boats in Ontario – A Growing Concern

If you value and cherish your boat, the concept of someone abandoning theirs may seem unfathomable. In truth, abandoned boats have become a growing concern throughout the province, with more than 40 located on Lake Ontario alone this year. 

The act of abandoning a boat is illegal, and punishable with up to 6 months of jail time and/or a $25,000 fine. Though such penalties may seem severe, they are levied with good reason–abandoned boats can be especially harmful to the environment. If a vessel has gas, oil, or other toxic materials onboard, they can seep into the water, harming what is often a fragile ecosystem. 

abandoned boats ontario

While abandoned boats have always been an issue, the problem has expanded in scope in recent years. Experts believe this can be attributed to the pandemic and deteriorating economic conditions. In truth, owning and operating a vessel can be expensive, and individuals in dire financial circumstances may opt to just ditch their boat instead of paying for a proper disposal process.

Take Action When You Come Across a Nuisance Boat

If you happen to discover an abandoned boat, you are going to want to notify authorities as soon as possible. Under Canadian law, only the Coast Guard, Transport Canada, or the vessel’s owner can extract an abandoned boat from the water. 

As you may imagine, resources to carry out such a process can be thin. In 2019, parliament passed the Wrecked, Abandoned, or Hazardous Vessels Act to address this burgeoning issue. Still, authorities cannot be everywhere at once, and there is often a backlog of abandoned boats that require removal. 

Get Your Vessel Documentation Online

Another facet of being a responsible boat owner is keeping your vessel documentation or license current. If you need to update your documentation with Transport Canada, the National Vessel Registry Center can help. We are a private service that offers easy-to-complete web forms and an SSL-encrypted web portal to safely process your applications. If you would like to learn more, please contact us by phone or email today.