Navigation Protection Program

The Navigation Protection Program (NPP) helps keep Canada’s navigable waters open for transport and recreation. The program administers the About the Canadian Navigable Waters Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the About The Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act.

As per the About the Canadian Navigable Waters Act (CNWA), navigable water means a body of water, including a canal or any other body of water created or altered as a result of the construction of any work, that is used by vessels, in full or in part, for any part of the year as a means of transport or travel for commercial or recreational purposes, or as a means of transport or travel for Indigenous peoples of Canada exercising rights recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and

  • there is public access, by land or by water;
  • there is no such public access but there are two or more riparian owners; or
  • The only riparian owner is either the Federal Government or a Provincial Government.

The definition of navigable water does not include artificial irrigation channels or drainage ditches.

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Program responsibilities

The program:

Review the Apply to the NPP webpage if you plan to construct, place, alter, remove or decommission a work in, on, over, under, through or across any navigable water in Canada.

Canadian Navigable Waters Act

In 2019, the Navigation Protection Act was amended and renamed the CNWA to better reflect its purpose. Changes in the Act were aimed at strengthening environmental protection, as well as protecting waters on which the public has the right to travel (navigable waters). The Act received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019.

Canada Shipping Act, 2001

In Canada's marine navigation system, buoys are important to the safety and well-being of the boating community. Under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA, 2001), the Private Buoys Regulations (PBR) applies to all private buoys placed as aids to navigation - except those used to mark fishing apparatus, unless otherwise directed by Transport Canada (TC) officials. These regulations exist to make sure that Canadian private buoys meet Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) standards.

The responsibility for enforcement and compliance provisions of the PBR lies with the NPP.

Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act

The About The Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act (WAHVA) is a key measure to protect Canada’s waterways and marine ecosystem, under the Government of Canada’s $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan.

The NPP’s role regarding problem vessels is to monitor compliance and enforce the irresponsible management provisions of WAHVA in all Canadian waters and the exclusive economic zone of Canada. The program is also responsible for the Contact Navigation Protection Program and Receiver of Wreck provisions.

TC’s Abandoned Boats Program (ABP) provides funding to remove abandoned boats and wrecks that are hazards in Canadian waters. To qualify for ABP funding, applicants must first get authorization from the NPP to take possession of a boat.

To find out whether a craft meets the criteria and to apply for permission to remove and dispose of it, or to report a wreck to the Receiver of Wreck, contact an NPP regional office.

For boats and wrecks in commercial fishing harbours, consult the Small Craft Harbours Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Learn more about WAHVA.

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