ARCHIVED - Commercial Fishers, Divers and the Maritime Industry

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If you are in commercial operations such as fishing, clamming or dredging, or if you are a commercial diver or exploration worker, submerged UXO may present a danger to you, your vessel and its crew.

What is Underwater UXO?

There are hundreds of confirmed and potential UXO sites in Canada. Underwater UXO legacy sites are those within 200 nautical miles of our coasts (Canada’s Economic Exclusion Zone), and those in our lakes and rivers.

Munitions are known to be located underwater as a result of: being fired into the water during military training activities; being dumped at sea (a practice no longer performed by Canada); or resulting from a shipwreck or plane crash.

Determining the level of risk in underwater areas is not always easy. The sites may have been plotted over fifty years ago using methods that are crude by today’s standards. Tides, wave action and ice may also have caused the UXO to migrate.

The Risks

These unexploded bombs may wash up on shore or be caught up in fishing nets, bottom tending gear or dredges.

If you encounter something that could be UXO either close to a river, near a lake or on a beach by the coast, do not touch or disturb it in any way. Note the location, leave the area and call 9-1-1 or the local police.

If an object that looks like UXO is caught in a net or on a line, consider the object to be explosive and dangerous. Do not attempt to bring it alongside or aboard. The trawl or line should be lowered and then towed clear of regular fishing grounds. Then the net or line should be cut in accordance with the Notice to Mariners.

If it can’t be cut then stream the object as far away as possible and get instructions from the nearest Joint Rescue Centre. Position the crew at the forward end of the vessel keeping the deckhouse between them and the object.

Advice for Organizations

Employers and commercial organizations operating on or near a body of water that could contain UXO should:

  • be aware of the plotted or known locations of UXO sites in their area;
  • contact us before beginning any underwater work in an area that is known or suspected to contain UXO;
  • ensure everyone at the work site knows how to recognize UXO and knows what to do if it is encountered;
  • establish safety procedures in the event UXO is encountered;
  • establish a reporting system that employees must follow;
  • provide up-to-date information on known hazards to everyone at the work site; and
  • ensure staff have first aid training and supplies.

Advice for Individuals

Anyone who may be working on or near a body of water that could contain UXO should:

  • know about the UXO hazards where you are working;
  • know the procedures in the event UXO is encountered;
  • never approach, touch or move suspicious objects by bringing them on board or on shore; and
  • stay alert and exercise caution