Maryjack (2014)

LOCATION: Sibell Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Case number: 120-657-C1

The Incident
On May 31, 2014, the Maryjack, a 60-foot wooden hull ex-fishing vessel built in 1927 sank at anchor in Sibell Bay, near Ladysmith on Vancouver Island, BC, which is the home territory of the Stz’uminus First Nation and site of a shellfish aquaculture industry. As a result, oil pollutants were discharged into the marine environment.

The same day, the incident was reported to the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) and the CCG Environmental Response (CCG-ER) personnel assumed the role of On-Scene-Commander. A containment boom and absorbent pads were deployed in order to recover the pollutants. On June 1, further to the finding that the wreck was still discharging fuel and lubricating oil as well as hydraulic fluid, the CCG-ER hired local divers to try and restrict the flow of oil by plugging vents; however, oil continued to issue. The day after, CCG team continued recovering the oiled sorbents from within the containment boom.

The registered owner was contacted and a formal “Notice to Owner” outlining the owner’s responsibility in the first place to take measures to remedy or minimize pollution damage was sent to him by CCG, but he was unable to respond financially to the situation.

On June 4, a contractor, Saltair Marine Services, was hired through Public Works and Government Services Canada to raise, deconstruct and dispose of the Maryjack. The vessel was brought to the surface, dewatered and towed to the contractor’s facility at Ladysmith. An independent technical marine surveyor evaluated its condition and recommended its destruction since it was unfit for any service. All the hydrocarbons were removed and the Maryjack was dismantled by the contractor.

The Claim
On July 10, 2015, the CCG on behalf of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO/CCG) filed a claim with the Administrator for costs and expenses incurred in the amount of $94,689.51, pursuant to the Marine Liability Act (the Act).

The Administrator determined that the claim was eligible under Part 7 of the Act.

Assessment and Offer
Further information was requested for the assessment. Some of the claimed costs and expenses incurred were disallowed, such as the overtime which was not considered necessary, the additional insurance charges, and the new charge-out rates which were not yet in force at the time of the incident.

On November 13, 2015 the Administrator made a final offer to CCG for the established amount of $86,228.70 plus interest, as full and final settlement. The offer was accepted by CCG on December 18, 2015. However, the payment was withheld due to the Release and Subrogation issue.

This incident having been selected as the test case for such issue, on October 7, 2016, the counsel for the SOPF served and filed a Notice of Application. The hearing took place in April 2017, and the Federal Court issued their decision on May 31, 2017 to the effect that the Administrator does not have the right to require a claimant to execute the Release and Subrogation Agreement as a condition precedent to payment of their claim under the Act.

A payment of $93,812.48 which includes interest in the amount of $7,583.78, was made to CCG on or about June 8, 2017.

Recovery Action
Due to the shipowner’s lack of financial means at the date of the incident, as well as the impossibility to trace back this shipowner after the incident, the Administrator was not able to commence a recourse action.

The file was closed on July 5, 2017.