New Laws and Regulations That Apply to Pleasure Craft

New Laws

Apr 9, 2020

Boat Ownership Responsibilities for Wrecked and Abandoned Vessels and Sharing Waterways Where Whales May Migrate and Transit

By John Gullick, CPS-ECP Manager of Government and Special Programs

From time to time new laws and regulations relating to the operation of pleasure craft are added to the Small Vessel Regulations and are also added to the key learning points required to pass the test for the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC).

These regulations and others have been added to the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons PCOC Boating Basics Handbook and on-line course. For more information about this and other courses and seminars go to: and click on Courses and Seminars.

Here are the two latest additions that have been sent to us by Transport Canada, Office of Boating Safety. Let’s start with the rationale and objective for adding these regulations.

Operators must recognize that, in the interest of safety, there are laws and regulations that must be respected. Violations can result in boating incidents and therefore have various assigned penalties. Boat operators should understand the civil liability implications of recreational boating.

Operators should be able to describe the legal obligations of a vessel operator to comply with the applicable laws and regulations.

Boat Ownership responsibility for Wrecked and Abandoned Vessels

Boat ownership comes with responsibility and boat owners are responsible and liable for the end-of-life management of their vessel(s). Boat owners can be held responsible and liable for all pollution, and clean-up, related costs incurred, resulting from their boating activities.

If your boat is in bad condition, ensure that you get rid of it in proper responsible manner before it impacts the environment or the safety of others.

Boat Ownership Responsibility with respect to disposal of an old boat.
• Boat owners should ensure that the ownership documentation is transferred properly.
• Do not abandon, neglect or deliberately sink the boat.
• Take precautions and think of your boat’s retirements.
• Recycle or dispose of your boat legally and responsibly.
• Contact your local or regional boating association to know more on the best places to recycle or dispose of your boat.

Responsible for costs, to report a wreck and to mark the location of a wreck

• The owner of a vessel is liable for the costs of locating, marking and removing a hazardous wreck resulting from a maritime casualty (accident).
• The master or operator of any vessel, including a pleasure craft operator, involved in a maritime casualty resulting in a wreck is required to report it, without delay to either a:
Canadian Coast Guard Maritime and Communications and Traffic Service Centre or a designated Department of Fisheries and Oceans official.
• The owner of a vessel involved in a maritime casualty that results in a hazardous wreck must take all reasonable steps to mark it without delay.

This applies to all incidents in Canadian waters and Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Sharing Waterways Where Whales May Migrate or Transit

It is the responsibility of all boat owners and operators to ensure the safety and protection of all wildlife including, but not limited to, whales.

Boat operators should be prepared to share the waterways so as not to create a hazard or threat to other boaters and watercraft, swimmers, divers, wildlife or the environment in general.

Boat operators should be able to describe the rules to apply when sharing the waterways.

Pleasure craft operators should:
• Exercise caution in areas where whales may migrate and transit.
• Be aware that whales can surface unexpectedly and may be unaware of boats.
• Keep a look-out for blows, go slow if you see one.
• Stay clear of whales by providing them with lots of space and stay at least 200m away.

Our thanks to Transport Canada, Office of Boating Safety. Go to:

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