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Wreck removal Implementing the International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007... By David K. Jones A Vancouver Lawyer with Bernard LLP - Subscriber Access Only

By BCShippingNews 30 September 2015

The dramatic and very costly parbuckling, refloating and removal of the wreck of the cruise ship Costa Concordia from its partially submerged position in an environmentally sensitive coastal area off the Italian island of Giglio focused the world’s attention on wreck removal in 2014. Less dramatic, but of significance to many local coastal communities, is what can be done with a derelict vessel tied up to a wharf, grounded on a beach, or submerged. Wreck removal can be very costly and potentially dangerous because of the practical difficulties associated with removing a wrecked vessel and any hazardous substances that may remain on board.

This article reviews the current Canadian legislation relating to wrecks, and Canada’s proposals to improve the legislative regime dealing with wrecked and derelict vessels, including legislation implementing provisions of the International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007 (Wreck Convention).

The current Canadian legislation relating to wrecked or derelict vessels includes Part 7 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, titled “Wreck”, which defines wreck to include “jetsam [something thrown overboard], flotsam [wreckage of a ship floating or washed up on shore], lagan [goods or wreckage lying on the ocean floor] and derelict [abandoned vessel] and any other thing that was part of or was on a vessel wrecked, stranded or in distress,” and aircraft wrecked in waters. The Act includes provisions for persons finding a wreck to report it to the receiver of wrecks, and for the Minister of Transport to release or dispose of the wreck, and to determine a salvage award, if any, to a person who has found the wreck.