Port Seeks Arrest Warrant for Owner of Derelict Ship

The Mowat in February 2016 (image courtesy Bernadette Jordan / YouTube)

By MarEx 2016-06-01 21:38:15

The mayor of the town of Shelburne, Nova Scotia is looking to secure a warrant for the arrest of Tracy Dodds, a scrap operator and the owner of the defunct former Sea Shepherd vessel Farley Mowat. Dodds has now missed four court deadlines for the vessel's removal, including a deadline to avoid a contempt of court charge, reports Canada's CBC, and he could face as much as 20 days in jail for failure to comply. 

As recently as April, Dodds appeared to be making progress towards complying with court directives and preparing the Mowat to move, but those efforts appear to have stalled.

The cost of removing and scrapping the vessel could run to six figures, chief administrative officer Dylan Heide says, and "it's still a burden on the port and on the town." He said that the port has had to turn away commercial vessels for want of berths, and called for strengthened federal regulations on derelict ships to control the costs and liabilities for municipalities. 

Town officials contend that the flat-black-painted, rusting vessel is an eyesore, with no wheelhouse, no engine and scrap on deck. 

"It certainly is not attractive to have sitting in our beautiful harbor," said mayor Karen Mattatall. "But, more than that, it has been a large piece of our wharf that wasn't available to people who would want to come and use our wharf, people who would want to work at our wharf and we're losing a substantial amount of money by not being able to have that space available to lease."

Member of Parliament Bernadette Jordan is sponsoring a bill to provide assistance to communities and to strengthen penalties for the owners of derelicts. Among other regulatory challenges she seeks to address, scrap vessel owners are not required to register in the same manner as owners of working vessels – making it difficult even to identify who they are, much less hold them accountable for the disposition of their property, she says. 

"Shelburne has this beautiful harbor [but] they've got this horrible vessel [the remains of the Mowat] sitting at the end of it. And when you've got the option of something like a cruise ship coming, is that the first thing you want tourists to see when they're getting off their ship?" said Jordan. 

Canadian police confiscated the Mowat during a Sea Shepherd action in 2008. She was sold at auction and has sat idle since; she sank at her berth in Shelburne in June 2015, requiring the Canadian Coast Guard to refloat her and clean her at an expense of about $500,000. 

CBC has linked Tracy Dodds to multiple abandoned vessels along Nova Scotia; his fleet allegedly includes the tug Craig Trans, the trawler Tenacity I, and the fishing vessel Kings Endeavour, all facing orders for removal from their present berths and claims for slip fees. He was also connected to the derelict fishing vessel Ryan Atlantic II, which also sank pierside; he told CBC that he had sold the Ryan Atlantic before her sinking.