Nova Scotia

Farley Mowat ship to be raised from bottom of Shelburne Harbour

The Canadian Coast Guard is working to bring up MV Farley Mowat from the bottom of Shelburne Harbour, where it has been berthed since last fall.

Former anti-sealing ship bought by scrap dealer, sank June 25

The anti-sealing vessel Farley Mowat was towed to Sydney after the federal government seized the ship in 2008 and its captain and first officer were arrested and accused of interfering with that season's seal hunt. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The former anti-sealing ship MV Farley Mowat is being raised from the bottom of Shelburne Harbour where it sank in June, the Canadian Coast Guard confirmed Tuesday.

Dave Jennings, a spokesperson for the Canadian Coast Guard, said it will likely take several weeks to bring the vessel to the surface, depending on the weather.

The coast guard was brought in to deal with pollutants leaking from the derelict ship after it sank on June 25 in the Port of Shelburne.

"A sheen continues to rise from the hull. There is oil mixed with water and that makes it difficult to ascertain the quantity," Jennings said.

Booms are set up around the area to contain matter coming from the vessel and absorbent material is being used to soak it up, he said. Meanwhile, divers are going down to the Farley Mowat to seal off hatches and other openings.

Expensive undertaking

"Covers may have to be manufactured to seal off those holes," Jennings said.

It will be an expensive undertaking when everything is factored in, he acknowledged, but would not estimate what the final cost might be.

"I wouldn't even attempt that," he said.

Only the tip of the bow of the MV Farley Mowat was visible after it sank June 25 in Shelburne Harbour. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

Ideally the bill for the cleanup will go to the owner, he said. But that bill may be difficult to collect.

The town of Shelburne is suing the current owner, scrap dealer Tracy Dodds, in an attempt to collect $14,000 in unpaid dock and berthage fees. Dodds bought the vessel in 2013 after it was sold at auction. Attempts to reach Dodds have been unsuccessful.

Cleanup costs and unpaid dock fees will likely tally far more than the vessel is worth.

In the event the owner cannot be found or be forced to pay, there is a federal pollution contingency fund that will cover the cost, Jennings said.

The Farley Mowat has had a checkered past.

Ship seized after seal hunt incident

The federal government originally seized the ship in 2008 after its captain and first officer were arrested and accused of interfering with that season's seal hunt.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which owned the ship, said the vessel was merely monitoring the seal hunt. But Dutch national Alex Cornelissen and Swede Peter Hammarstedt were later convicted of violating the Fisheries Act and Canada's marine mammal regulations.

Video, photographs and radar evidence showed the Mowat pursuing and harassing sealers.

The vessel was first towed to Sydney following the arrests. It was then sold, with the idea to refit the vessel in Lunenburg and use it for expeditions.

The refit didn't happen and was put up for sale again. Last fall, the vessel was being towed when one of the tugs had a mechanical problem and the Farley Mowat was brought into Shelburne, according to the Coast Guard newspaper.

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