Marine Habitat

Artificial Reefs

Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA), Environment Canada allows the disposal at sea of about 2 to 3 million tonnes of materials each year, including:

  • Dredged or excavated material (making up about 90% of the total)
  • Fish waste and other organic matter from fish processing operations.
  • Ships, aircraft, platforms or other structures
  • Bulky substances composed of iron, steel, concrete or other similar matter

Most of the dumped materials go to designated ocean disposal sites, including about 20 sites in the Strait of Georgia and adjoining waterways.

 HMCS Chaudiere
 HMCS Chaudiere, sunk in 1992

Most of the dumping occurs quietly - but one type has been plagued with controversy. On a number of occasions, recreational divers’ organizations in our region have pressed for and won permits to dump derelict ships – and in one case, an airplane – to use as artificial reefs.

Despite public concerns about environmental impacts, derelict vessels have been sunk in various locations including sites off Nanaimo, Sechelt Inlet, Chemainus, Sidney and Howe Sound.

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