Abandoned, sunken ship in B.C. underscores need for updated law: MP

A Japanese fishing boat lost in the Pacific Ocean after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami was sighted drifting 150 nautical miles of the southern coast of Haida Gwaii by the crew of an aircraft on a routine surveillance patrol. Transport Canada has identified many vessels of concern, including abandoned and unseaworthy ships in waters along the entire British Columbia coast. More than three dozen are currently moored in Ladysmith Harbour.THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Department of National Defence M
A Japanese fishing boat lost in the Pacific Ocean after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami was sighted drifting 150 nautical miles of the southern coast of Haida Gwaii by the crew of an aircraft on a routine surveillance patrol. Transport Canada has identified many vessels of concern, including abandoned and unseaworthy ships in waters along the entire British Columbia coast. More than three dozen are currently moored in Ladysmith Harbour.THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Department of National Defence M

LADYSMITH, B.C. - A New Democrat member of Parliament from British Columbia is criticizing the federal government for failing to act quickly enough to deal with derelict vessels.

The complaints come days after the 27-meter Anapaya, a wooden fishing boat, sank in Ladysmith Harbour on the east coast of Vancouver Island.

Nanaimo-Ladysmith New Democrat MP Sheila Malcolmson spoke during Question Period Tuesday calling the sinking the "latest example of the Liberal’s failed boat-by-boat approach on abandoned vessels."

Malcolmson says the boat was identified as a "vessel of concern" by Transport Canada in 2014.

Rod Smith with the Ladysmith Maritime Society says coast guard responders deployed a boom to contain an oil sheen and efforts are underway to remove the 99-year-old vessel from a section of the harbour known as the dogpatch, a home for dozens of derelict vessels.

Malcolmson's private members' bill to create a national program to address abandoned vessels reached second reading in the House of Commons Wednesday.

"We need a robust system to deal with these vessels before they harm our environment and community," she says in a news release.

The New Democrats say the bill is aimed at ending jurisdictional disputes by making the coast guard responsible for directing the removal of abandoned vessels.

It would also fix vessel registration, pilot a vessel turn-in program and create jobs by supporting local marine salvage businesses and vessel recycling, Malcolmson says.

Smith says he's not optimistic that the decrepit ship, which sits on the harbour bottom with a portion of its mast visible above water, can be lifted in one piece.

"It's going to be tricky because it is 90 feet and it's wooden and by all accounts it's a rotten structure," he says.

"Normally you might just put a couple of slings under it and pump it out and bring it up but I will be curious to see how they do it. It's going to be quite a challenge."

Smith says he thought the Anapaya might be raised Thursday or Friday, taking advantage of two days of expected calm seas and good weather, but added that the final decision would be left to the coast guard.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved. 2017

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