The Coast Guard is considering selling or disposing of two vessels it removed from Howe Sound following last year’s December windstorm.
“The Crown will decide what is in the best interest of the public and protecting the environment,” wrote Coast Guard spokesperson Kiri Westnedge in an email.
After a windstorm swept through the Squamish area at the end of 2018, several boats were damaged and some sank in the Darrell Bay area.
In January, the Coast Guard later took away several vessels that they deemed to be abandoned, damaged, or both.
At the time, crews removed the boats the Zena, La Rata Bastarda, the Sea Angel II and two small pleasure craft from the area.
Since then, the Coast Guard put out notices looking for the owner of the La Rata Bastarda and the Sea Angel II.
The advertising period ended on April 1, and the authority says no one has come forward to claim the boats.
However, local resident Steen Larsen said that the La Rata Bastarda belongs to him.
“They already know that,” said Larsen, speaking of his ownership of the La Rata. “I’ve sent them all the information they need.”
Larsen also noted that he’s contacted the authority with respect to the other vessel, as well.
“I’ve contacted the Coast Guard on behalf of the owner of the Sea Angel — it belongs to my daughter,” he said. “I don’t know what they are up to, but they are not being forthright. That’s put[ting] that in mild terms.”
Larsen said there was no legal standpoint for the Coast Guard to take those vessels.
“Neither boat was polluting,” he said. “They removed the vessels without authority.”
Larsen said he has witnesses, pictures, a divers’ survey that he says shows the boats were not environmental hazards.
“There were no holes, there were no leaks, there was no oil — nothing,” he said. “It’s a song and dance routine.”
On the other hand, the Coast Guard issued a statement to The Chief saying, “To date, no one has provided Coast Guard with documentation demonstrating ownership of either of the vessels.”
The organization also said the vessels were removed under its Environmental Response authority.
The Environmental Response program’s mission is to “ensure an appropriate level of preparedness and response capability for all ship-source and mystery source pollution incidents in waters under Canadian jurisdiction,” reads a Fisheries and Oceans primer on the subject.
It uses what Fisheries and Oceans calls a consistent approach for responding to marine pollution incidents in all regions of Canada.
According to Westnedge, the cost of removing the La Rata Bastarda and the Sea Angel II hasn’t been determined.
Previous removals in the Pacific region suggest it can cost between $3,000 to $50,000 to dispose of a smaller vessel, she said.
Removing sunken vessels and transporting boats to disposal facilities can increase these costs further, Westnedge added.