The vessel which sunk almost completely in Sidney’s Robert Bay last week left the designated bird sanctuary Monday afternoon with taxpayers floating the costs - for now.
A local salvage company contracted by the Canadian Coast Guard raised and towed the Maud J to Canoe Cove Marina.
The coast guard said in a statement that it made the move under existing Canadian law, which makes vessel owners liable for their ship at all times.
“If their vessel becomes damaged, owners must take all actions necessary, including repairs, salvage and prevention or clean-up of leaking fuel or oil,” it reads. “Unfortunately the owner of the vessel has been unable to effect a successful response to refloat and remove his vessel from Roberts Bay.”
Sidney has designated Roberts Bay as an Environmentally Sensitive Area to ensure greater oversight when landowners plan to undertake any major landscape or building alterations in this area. Environment and Climate Change Canada are responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests within the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, according to Sidney staff.
The decision to tow the vehicle out of the bay came after coast guard officials observed what the statement calls “small amounts of non-recoverable sheen” within the containment boom that has been place since Nov. 29. “No fuel was observed outside of the boom.”
Black Press has asked the coast guard for additional information about the cost of the clean up, as the statement does not cite a figure.
“Canada follows the ‘polluter pays’ principle,” it reads. “This means the polluter is responsible for the costs of the damage caused by their pollution. If the coast guard has to conduct clean-up, we may recover costs from the owner at a future time.”
Black Press also asked the coast guard what if any role the boat’s presence in a bird sanctuary played in expediting its removal.
In the end, the wooden-hulled vessel - built in 1939 — left Roberts Bay quickly, albeit with assistance from the maritime equivalent of a tow truck, flashing hazard lights inclusive, a black Zodiac in this case.
As a revolving cast of on-lookers watched from the shore, crews pumped water out of the vessel, which had nearly completely sunk into the waters of the bay last week. As the water gushed out of the pumps operating on a vessel anchored next to the Maud J, she steadily rose out of the waters. Within an hour or so, the Maud J found herself under tow, heading eastbound of the bay, before heading north.
Black Press has reached out to the area owner of the vessel for comment. Joe Quin had said in an earlier interview on Wednesday that he would do everything possible to get the boat out of the bay.
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