RCMP officers speak to a man on the water near the Oak Bay Marina where some marine vessels are moored illegally. The municipality of Oak Bay, in coordination with Transport Canada, are removing non-compliant buoys and derelict vessels from the area this week.
On Monday, March 31, the Oak Bay Police in cooperation and coordination with the Transport Canada Navigable Waters Protection Program and the RCMP Marine Section addressed the long-time issue of marine vessels moored illegally in Oak Bay adjacent to the Oak Bay Marina.
The Transport Canada initiative was spearheaded by Constable Mike Martin of the Oak Bay Police with the assistance and expertise of Corporal Lawrence Jacobs of the RCMP Marine Section and occurred over eight-months.
The project is focused on illegal mooring buoys under the Private Buoy Regulations. Agents from Transport Canada’s Navigable Waters Protection Program (NWPP) removed any jetsam and the remaining non-compliant buoys and some derelict vessels from the bay.
To ensure all vessel owners were fairly warned and to ensure maximum compliance, Const. Martin and Corp. Jacobs photographed and geo-referenced all the vessels in the bay. Verbal notice was given to the owners that this initiative was underway. In January, Const. Martin and Transport Canada officials notified every vessel by attaching notices to the vessels and/or mooring buoys in the bay. Last month, vessels that had been advised in writing were checked again and violation tickets were issued to those still not in compliance.
The objective has always been compliance, rather than enforcement, which is considered to be a last resort, said Oak Bay Const. Rick Anthony.
In total, 5 non-compliant moorage buoys were seized on Monday, two of which had derelict boats attached to them. These boats were removed as well. One of the five private buoys was returned to the water when the owner showed up with the appropriate material to make the buoy compliant under the Canada Shipping Act guidelines for private buoys.
Five other moorage buoys with attached vessels were also identified in the vicinity of the Oak Bay Marina and marked for future enforcement efforts. These were not removed today due to space and capacity limitations on the barge. All seized buoys and both boats were photographed and plotted on a GPS to be added to the project database. Owners of the seized boats have 30 days to contact Transport Canada should they wish to attempt to retrieve their vessels on a cost-recovery basis. A local marine recovery specialist, Rooke Marine Towing was utilized during this project for removal of the buoys and vessels.
Further patrols of the surrounding marine environment adjacent to the Oak Bay waterfront was undertaken later the same day and several dozen other non-compliant moorages and some semi-derelict vessels were observed. Additional investigation and follow up will be done on these buoys and boats, and will be addressed during phase two of this on-going project later this spring.