Sunken yachts, skiffs and boats decomposing underwater are being pulled from the K’omoks harbour.
The Dead Boat Disposal Society, an organization that removes sunken ships from the sea, will be removing 18 individual boats in the waters off Goose Spit. They work with Salish Sea Industrial Services, Esquimalt First Nations and Songhees First Nation along with other organizations and the provincial government to remove the boats.
The program has a goal to remove 100 abandoned vessels from the waters of the Salish Sea. The project also includes $2 million in funding from the province’s Clean Coast Clean Waters Initiative.
Boats are located and then removed via a barge onto the beach where a notice is placed on them for the owners of the boat.
Co-founder John Roe says the locations of the boats are given to him from those out on the water, but he often finds them in his spare time now that he is retired.
“I’ve been active on the water for 30 or 40 years,” said Roe. “Now that I’m semi-retired, I kinda go out and look for this sort of thing.”
“We documented them and then we have to go through a procedure of seizure with the federal government,” added Roe. “They issue us what is called a section 38 for removal after all the legal process.”
Roe says the boats need to be removed from the ocean because of the environmental damage potential. He says many are made of plastic and will break down into the environment, pointing to a salvaged boat on the beach.
“I would say it’s equivalent to 500,000 of your little shopping bags,” said Roe. “In a very short period of time this will get smashed up and it’ll enter our oceans again and spread all over this beautiful area here with birds and wildlife.”
“They got asbestos, plastic, lead paint and some might even have tributyltin on them,” added Roe. “It’s pretty nasty stuff.”
Roe says crews will be slowly removing the boats throughout the day and they will be back next year to remove more.
He says he would like to thank the K’omoks First Nation for their help in finding and removing the boats.