Ontario boating regulations to reduce spread of invasive species

Ontario boating regulations to reduce spread of invasive species

Starting January 1, 2022, watercraft in Ontario including canoes and kayaks will be classified as carriers of invasive species under the Invasive Species Act. Ontario boaters are now required to remove any aquatic plants, animals, or algae attached to watercraft, vehicles, or trailers before transporting watercraft overland or placing watercraft into a body of water.

The new rules will help prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species prohibited in Ontario.

Aquatic species prohibited in Ontario – marbled, red swamp, New Zealand mud, Prussian carp, mountain pine beetle

Plant species restricted in Ontario – yellow floating heart, Carolina Fanwort, European frogbit, Bohemian knotweed, giant knotweed, Himalayan knotweed, pig

Owners of watercraft will have to drain water from their boat or boat equipment and take reasonable precautions to remove all aquatic plants, animals and algae from any boat, boat equipment, vehicle, or trailer.

Clean, drain, and dry method

Owners of watercraft will have to use what the province is calling “clean, drain, dry” method to slow or stop the spread of invasive species between bodies of water.

Clean your boat and gear

Before you transport your boat overland, clean any mud, vegetation, algae, mussels or any other animals from your boat, motor, trailer, vehicle or equipment. Aquatic species like the Zebra Mussel will hang onto the hull of your boat. Plant species like the Eurasian water-milfoil will hide on your motor, anchor and trailer.

Drain all water by opening or removing your drain plugs

Drain all water by pulling the plug on your transom, bilge, or any other water holding device at the boat launch and before transporting your boat overland. This does not apply to drinking water systems, marine sanitary systems or closed engine cooling systems. This does not apply to a livewell as long as the person transporting the livewell has a licence to transport live fish.

Dry or disinfect

Some invasive aquatic species can survive up to two weeks out of water. You may not even know they are on your boat as they may not be seen with the naked eyes. Before travelling to a new body of water, you can take either of the following steps:

  • dry your boat in sunlight
  • clean your boat from top to bottom with hot water or pressurized water

Avoid aquatic plants

Try to avoid driving your boat through aquatic plants because propellers can break them loose and spread invasive species.

The provinces knows it may not be possible to fully remove all aquatic plants, animals or algae at the boat launch. Boaters can move their boat to a location where they can remove aquatic plants, animals and algae using a pressure washer or other equipment.

Do you want to find out what species could be threatening your area? Download the EDDMapS Ontario app.

If you spot an invasive species, you can call the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunter’s hotline toll free at 1-800-563-7711. Or, you can report an invasive species using the EDDMapS Ontario app.

Invasive species action plans

Invasive Species Act, 2015, S.O. 2015, c. 22 – Bill 37

Regulating 13 invasive species and watercraft as a carrier of invasive species under Ontario’s Invasive Species Act, 2015

Transport Canada proposes changes to the Pleasure Craft Licencing Program

Transport Canada proposes changes to the Pleasure Craft Licencing Program

A Pleasure Craft Licence is a document issued by Transport Canada that shows the licence holder (boat owner or owners) and a unique licence number. The licence number is the same number located on the side of your boat near the bow. In Ontario, the licence number begins with the letters ON to show that the boat is licenced in Ontario.

Pleasure Craft Licences are obtained online through the Pleasure Craft Electronic Licencing System, or by mail. Until 2010, Pleasure Craft Licences were issued for a lifetime. Since 2010, Pleasure Craft Licences have been issued for 10 year periods at no cost to the boat owner. Any vessel powered by a 10 horsepower engine or higher must be registered.

Why is Transport Canada making changes to the Pleasure Craft Licencing Program?

The proposed changes to the Pleasure Craft Licencing program are part of Transport Canada’s effort to modernize transportation laws, regulations, fees and services.

According to Transport Canada, there are over 2.7 million Pleasure Craft Licences in their database but many contain outdated information making it difficult to identify the current owner of a vessel in an emergency. Also, pleasure craft licensing supports The Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act, which helps protect Canada’s waterways and marine ecosystem. The new proposals will improve the quality and accuracy of vessel owner information in the database making it easier to identify owners of wrecked and abandoned pleasure craft.

Over 100,000 pleasure craft licensing service requests are processed each year at no cost to the boat owner. This means that the program is funded solely by Canadian taxpayers. Transport Canada analysis shows that it costs about $15.55 to process one pleasure craft licence transaction.

What are the proposed changes to Pleasure Craft Licencing Program?

You can read the proposed fees and ruled changes tor the Pleasure Craft Licencing Program at the Transport Canada website.

  1. Transport Canada is proposing a $15 fee to obtain, renew, transfer or duplicate a Pleasure Craft Licence. Transport Canada will have the authority to suspend or cancel a licence.
  2. Pleasure Craft Licences will be valid for 5 years instead of the previous 10 year period. Lifetime licences will be eliminated. For existing 10-year Pleasure Craft Licences, the new 5-year period will take effect at the end of the current 10 year period. Existing lifetime Pleasure Craft Licences will be switched to the new 5 year period in phases over 6 years, between 2022 to 2023 and 2027 to 2028. The proposed fee of $15 will work out to $3 per year.
  3. Transport Canada will begin sending reminder notices to Pleasure Craft Licence holders to let them know their licence is coming up for renewal when they are to be transitioned to the new 5 year period.
  4. The Small Vessel Regulations will include all pleasure craft with motors of 10 horsepower or more regardless of length. It will also include a pleasure craft above 6 metres in length regardless of motor size with the exception of human-powered boats such as canoes and kayaks.
  5. Transport Canada will reduce the time frame for owners to notify them of a name or address change from 90 days to 30 days. This includes buyers notifying Transport Canada of a sale or transfer of vessel.
  6. Transport Canada will allow for the easier cancellation of Pleasure Craft Licences.
  7. Transport Canada will process applications and send out licences within 5 business days of when a fully completed application is receiving including required documentation.

When will the proposals take effect?

Transport Canada will take into account the views of pleasure craft owners and other interested parties and will publish the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement with the proposed regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I in the spring/summer of 2021. It is expected that the new fee will come into force in fall 2022.

Pleasure Craft Operator Card

Pleasure Craft Operator Card

As of September 15, 2009 all boaters are required to have the Pleasure Craft Operator Card in order to operate a powered watercraft. There is no grandfather clause or age exemption – this law applies to all boaters. Powered watercraft includes watercraft fitted with any size motor — even an electric trolling motor. Not having the required Pleasure Craft Operator Card or proof of competency on board carries a fine of $250 (not including administrative charges).

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