Convention on the Removal of Wrecks

The Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007 (Wreck Removal Convention) was adopted by the International Marine Organization (IMO) in 2007 and came into force internationally in 2015. It provides a set of uniform international rules aimed at ensuring prompt and effective removal of wrecks that may have caused a hazard to safety, navigation, property, communities and the marine environment.

The Wreck Removal Convention makes the vessel owners strictly liable for the costs of locating, marking, and removing the wreck if determined that the wreck poses a hazard to the safety of navigation, leads to harmful consequences to the marine environment, or damages the coastline or other coastal interests (e.g. fisheries, tourism, or offshore structure).

Through Bill C-64: The Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessel Act, which was introduced in Parliament on October 30, 2019 and received Royal Assent on February 28, 2019; the Wreck Removal Convention, requires owners of vessel of 300 gross tonnes and above to maintain insurance or other security to cover the potential costs related to the removal of wrecks and to provide claimants the right to recover their losses through direct action against the vessel insurer and establishes a regime of strict liability.

Under Article 12 of the Convention, certificates are issued showing that a contract of insurance or other security is in place that satisfies the requirements. If a vessel’s flag state is a member of the Convention, a certificate can be obtain through their relevant authority. For Canadian vessels the certificate is issued by Transport Canada, Marine Safety and Security. A foreign vessel that is registered in a non –state party to the Convention and does not already possess a certificate, can apply for one from Transport Canada.