Coast Guard removes another vessel from Deep Bay

Gord Johns in the News

Source: PQBNews

The coast guard has removed a second troubled vessel — the 120-foot Laurier II — from Deep Bay.

"Recently, the Canadian Coast Guard French Creek lifeboat station noticed that the Laurier II draft was increasing and seemed to be taking on water. An examination of the vessel revealed a leak," said spokeswoman Michelle Imbeau.

She said they were monitoring it for awhile and directed the owners "to take measures to ensure the vessel did not sink and to remove pollutants from the vessel," but "no actions were taken by the owner within the timelines provided."

"Due to the vessel's continuing deteriorating condition, it was deemed to be a threat to pollute, therefore the coast guard had the vessel removed," on Sept. 6.

Like a 100-foot tug boat that was removed from the same cluster of old boats in Deep Bay Harbour in April, the Laurier II was "towed to a facility in Ladysmith that specializes in removal of pollutants," Imbeau said.

"I'm just tickled pink," said Bill Veenhof, chair of the Regional District of Nanaimo and director for Deep Bay who pushed the issue but doesn't take any credit for the removal. "The removal of the Laurier is an outstanding outcome and this positive action will go a long way towards protecting our shellfish industry."

The Laurier II made news in October 2015 when it started listing as it took on water and had to be pumped out. "The coast guard was coming periodically to pump the vessel out," he said, adding many people had been expressing "very serious concerns about the vessel for months."

"I applaud the actions of the Canadian Coast Guard to remove the Laurier II from Deep Bay Harbour this week," said Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns in a news release. "This is a positive step toward protecting our coastal environment and the shellfish industry."

"I have heard loud and clear throughout the riding that we need both immediate action and long-term solutions to address this pressing issue," he said of who is responsible for derelicts. An NDP bill to make the coast guard responsible was defeated last year.

"I am heartened by our success on this file," Johns continued. "It proves that by working together with their MP, local stakeholders in the shellfish industry, the VIU Deep Bay Marine Field Station, Qualicum First Nation, local government officials and community members can be heard in Ottawa."

"This is excellent news. This has been a serious concern for the Deep Bay Marine Field Station and VIU for some time," said Stephanie Richards, facilities co-ordinator for the Vancouver Island University facility on the shore at Deep Bay.

"We are very happy to see this resolved without negative impacts to us or the rest of the industry and Baynes Sound."

The Laurier was built in the 1930s for the RCMP, served in the Navy during World War II and was used as a patrol vessel for what is now Fisheries and Oceans Canada up until the 1980s, according to various sources reported in The NEWS.

Last year field station manager Brian Kingzett said the environment suffers when old vessels sink.

"The worst is the environmental issues relating to oil spills from the lube oils in either large main engine or the auxiliary engines," he said, adding that fish, wildlife, shellfish and the general ecology in Baynes Sound would be at risk along with the shellfish industry which could be shut down for up to one year.

The shellfish industry employs about 60 people in the area including oyster beds and a processing plant within 200 metres of the cluster of boats.

"There's a bunch of small, what you would call derelict vessels," left in Deep Bay said Veenhof, but "I don't believe they pose significant concern to shellfish or the environment."