As we cruised into Gerrans Bay in Pender Harbour to visit the human’s cabin and their relatives, a disturbing sight caught my attention. For the last few years or so, there were two derelict boats anchored there. Now there are five more of these floating nightmares. What is going on here! The quiet little bay, that has managed to stay somewhat off the radar than the more popular anchorages in Pender Harbour, is turning into a marine graveyard.
Of the 2 pre-existing derelicts, one has now sunk, and the other washed up on shore. When vessels sink or are abandoned in bays, harbours and shorelines, they can be an eyesore and a hazard to navigation. At the same time, they can physically destroy sensitive marine and coastal habitats, sink or move during coastal storms, disperse oil and toxic chemicals still on board, become a source of marine debris and spread decrepit nets, fishing gear, and plastics that entangle and endanger marine life. To complicate matters further, reviews and permits may be required to remove boats that have sat on the bottom for years, even decades, that may attract the growth of corals and other endangered species on them, or have been abandoned for more than 50 years with respect to historical preservation.
Human mom tried her best to explain to me the complexities of having these vessels decommissioned and removed until I went cross-eyed. However, I was relieved to find out the humans are finally developing solutions to address the recent increase in numbers. The “do whatever it takes” attitude while understandable, doesn’t always pay especially if the vessel has lost any salvage value. Unlike automobiles, it can cost a lot of money to properly remove and dispose of a boat. Some owners, if they can be found at all, can’t or won’t pay for it although it is ultimately their responsibility. Slowly but shorely, the humans are sharing and implementing what they call “best practices” around the world to deal with these hazards, and to discourage any more from becoming one.
I’m pleased to announce that next month in September, my humans and other members of the Port Moody Power & Sail Squadron will be participating in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup within the harbour of Port Moody. The squadron also has a public facebook page dedicated to the awareness and discussion of environmental marine issues including derelict vessels.