Transport Canada Launches Abandoned Boat Initiative under Oceans Protection Plan

Under Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan, two programs will address the issue of abandoned boats and vessels: Transport Canada’s Abandoned Boats Program and an additional related program by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Back in November of 2016, the Government of Canada announced its $1.5 billion national Oceans Protection Plan to improve marine safety and responsible shipping, protect Canada’s marine environment and help advance Indigenous reconciliation. The new measures are designed to increase the strength and capabilities of Canada’s marine safety regime, build world-leading federal environmental response capacity, reduce risks associated with natural resources being imported and exported by ship, and improve economic prospects for the middle-class.

Transport Canada’s Abandoned Boats Program

Abandoned small boats in Canada (including recreational pleasure craft and small commercial fishing boats) have economic and environmental impacts on local communities. They can pollute the marine environment, harm local businesses such as tourism and fisheries, damage infrastructure, interfere with navigation, and pose safety risks to Canadians.

The Government of Canada has launched the Abandoned Boats Program, a $6.85 million funding initiative that will help preserve and protect our Canadian coasts and waterways. The new program provides grant and contribution funds to:

  • Assist communities in the assessment, removal and disposal of existing high-priority abandoned and/or wrecked small boats posing a hazard in Canadian waters.
  • Educate small-boat owners about how to responsibly manage their end-of-life boats.
  • Support research on boat recycling and environmentally responsible boat design.

Assessment and Removal Projects – $5.6 million over Five Years

Affected communities, particularly those that are small and remote, often do not have the resources to cover the costs of removing and disposing of abandoned and wrecked boats. The Abandoned Boats Program provides funding to support the assessment, removal and disposal of existing high-priority abandoned and wrecked boats.

The Government of Canada will pay 100 percent of eligible project costs for boat assessment projects, and up to 75 percent for boat removal and disposal projects. In exceptional circumstances, a higher cost-sharing amount may be available to recipients for removal and disposal projects.

Eligible recipients for this initiative are: provinces, territories, municipalities and local governments; Indigenous groups; communities and organizations; private ports or marinas; Canadian Port Authorities; and for-profit organizations and not-for-profit organizations. Transport Canada says priority will be given to provincial and territorial governments for boats on provincially and territorially owned land/water beds, and to indigenous groups.

While abandoned and wrecked vessels located in commercial fishing harbours owned by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans do not qualify for funding under this program, they can apply to an additional related program also supported by this department.

Education, Awareness & Research Projects – $1.25 million over 5 years

Education and Awareness (up to $750,000 over 5 years)
Owners do not always have a clear understanding of their responsibilities when their boat reaches its end of life – including boat disposal options or the impacts of abandonment. To address this, the program will provide funding to eligible recipients to educate boat owners about their responsibilities.

The Government of Canada will pay up to 75 percent of project costs for Education and Awareness projects.

Eligible recipients are: provinces, territories, municipalities and local governments; Indigenous groups, communities and organizations; marinas; academia; and, for-profit organizations and not-for-profit organizations.

Research (up to $500,000 over 5 years)
Some boats are made of non-recyclable or hazardous materials that can be costly to dismantle and dispose. The current lack of viable recycling opportunities for these materials poses significant challenges to managing end-of-life boats in an environmentally responsible manner.

Therefore, the program will provide funding for research into processes and materials that help improve boat recycling and design. The end goal is to find ways to improve recycling options for boats and prevent further unnecessary pollution.

The Government of Canada will pay up to 100 percent for research projects.

Eligible recipients are: academia, researchers, universities, marinas or other industry and community stakeholders involved in boat design, construction and recycling.

How to apply to the Abandoned Boats Program
A guide for applicants and additional information is available on Transport Canada’s website at:


Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s program
Under the Oceans Protection Plan, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is tackling the difficult issue of abandoned or wrecked vessels that can create significant environmental, economic and safety issues in coastal communities across Canada.

To address this, they are working with the Canadian Coast Guard to take action to prevent and clean up wrecked and abandoned boats, and hold owners accountable. A separate program for abandoned and wrecked vessels at Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s commercial fishing harbours will be launched in summer 2017. Over the next five years, $1.3 million of funding will be available to provide support to Harbour Authorities and other eligible recipients in removing and disposing of abandoned and wrecked vessels located in small craft harbours across the country.

This new initiative is designed to support Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s mandate of operating and maintaining a national network of safe and accessible harbours that meets the needs of the commercial fishing industry and the broader economic interest of coastal communities.