Abandoned boats, full of trash, need a tough approach if a solution is to be found. (contributed)

Abandoned boats, full of trash, need a tough approach if a solution is to be found. (contributed)

Time to get tough on derelict boat owners

Hefty fines and penalties may make people think twice

The plan to remove seven derelict boats from the Sooke Basin is a good start to solving the challenges posed by the irresponsible boat owners who have chosen to simply walk away from their decrepit crafts.

But it’s only a start

John Roe of the Dead Boats Disposal Society, the non-profit organization formed to address the problem is clear that it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

He described another dozen or so abandoned, and often sunk, boats that litter the region and explained that he fully expects to find at least that number again once his group starts looking.

And it’s not just the fact that these junked boats are an unsightly stain on our waterways or the fact that they pose a navigational hazard.

It seems that the people who abandon their boats have the habit of filling them with garbage of every description, ranging from paint cans to computer monitors and that, often, the boats contain any number of toxic chemicals and other materials that can, and will, impact the health of our waterways if they are not cleaned up.

It’s long past time for the government to get serious about the issue and Bill C64 is a start.

It will assign a registration number to every craft so that the owners of those abandoned boats can be identified.

Once that law is in place, the various levels of government with jurisdiction for the issue need to go one step further and introduce laws to impose consequences for the irresponsible behaviour of these boat owners. Those laws should require that the full cost of a boat’s removal and cleanup be passed along to the registered owners of the boats as well as significant enough fines to act as a deterrent to a practice that is tantamount to the dumping of toxic waste.

That will do nothing, of course, to deal with all those boats that are not currently registered and are unlikely to be registered by owners who plan to leave their vessels to the elements.

For those individuals, the laws need to be toughened to the point where, if they dump their boats and can be identified, the penalties are significant.

It’s time that, as a community, we do everything we can to stop this abysmal behaviour on the part of people who should know better