Vessel Fire near Gabriola Island

DISCLAIMER: Information provided is based on reports received by Emergency Management B.C. Information provided is considered to be current at the time of posting, but is subject to change as new information becomes available.

Incident Description

Incident Date August 31, 2017
Name Vessel fire near Gabriola Island
Source Vessel 
Nearest Community Gabriola, B.C. 
Spilled Content Diesel fuel
Who is involved? B.C. Ministry of Environment, Canadian Coast Guard, Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC), Nanaimo Port Authority, Emergency Management B.C., C-Tow Marine Assistance Ltd., Environment Canada


Response Phase Detail

The responsible person or spiller is legally required to clean-up or manage the clean-up of a spill. In incidents where the responsible person is unknown, unable or unwilling to manage the clean up, the Ministry of Environment may assume the role. The updates below reflect the Ministry’s oversight of the spillers’ actions; details describe the spill response phase, only, and not the complete lifecycle of the spill. See More Information for other related reports. 

Updates are in reverse chronological order, with the most recent at the top. Industry-specific language may be explained in the Glossary of Terms (PDF).

Most Recent Update

September 5, 2017 - 9:00 am

Two Environmental Emergency Response Officers (EEROs) conducted an aerial overflight of the incident site near Thrasher Rock on Friday, September 1, 2017. A representative from the Regional District of Nanaimo and a representative from the Snuneymuxw First Nation joined the two EEROs for the overflight. A point source of upwelling fuel was observed, causing a rainbow-silver sheen in patchy spots for over one kilometer in a southeast direction from the incident site. 

Transport Canada's National Aeronautics Surveillance Program (NASP) plane confirmed the rainbow-silver sheen. The surveillance team observed approximately 34.5 L of product on the water's surface at the time of the flight on Friday, September 1, 2017. The area surveyed included 3.5 km north along Gabriola Island, and 2.5 km south along Valdes Island. No hydrocarbon sheen was observed along the shorelines or around the islands to the west of Thrasher Rock.

Additional NASP overflights of the incident area were conducted throughout the weekend. During the overflight on Saturday, September 2, 2017, the surveillance team noted approximately 27 L of product on the water with no impact to shorelines. During the NASP overflight on Sunday, September 3, 2017, no visible pollution was observed on the water and no shorelines were impacted.

Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) attended the incident site by boat on Sunday, September 3, 2017 around the same time as the NASP overflight. CCG crews found no signs of sheening.

Additional updates will be provided if the situation escalates.

August 31, 2017 - 6:30 pm

The sunken fishing vessel was carrying approximately 15,000 L of diesel fuel, a small amount of lubricating oils and 23,000 lbs of halibut when it caught fire the evening of Thursday, August, 30, 2017. 

Notifications of the incident have been made to First Nations Health Authority, Nanaimo Regional District and local First Nations, including the Snuneymuxw Nation and the Cowichan Tribes. 

Transport Canada's National Aeronautics Surveillance Program (NASP) plane completed an overflight of the incident site early this morning. At the time of the flight, Transport Canada reported an estimated 1.6 L of diesel fuel on the water.

Canadian Coast Guard, C-Tow Marine Assistance Ltd. and Western Canada Marine Response Corporation searched the incident area where the vessel sunk, looking for sheen and debris. Very small pockets of non-recoverable sheen were observed in several areas. Attempts to recover the sheen with sorbent boom and pads were unsuccessful due to the thinness of the product on the water's surface. 

Environment Canada estimates 44 percent of the diesel evaporated within 24 hours of the spill incident. Based on the current spill projection models, Environment Canada does not expect the shoreline to be impacted. 

A helicopter overflight of the incident is planned for Friday, September 1, 2017. Canadian Coast Guard and B.C. Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy will continue to monitor this incident. 

Vessel on fire near Gabriola Island

Smouldering fishing vessel, Sea Valley II - August 30, 2017

Photo credit: Nanaimo Port Authority


August 31, 2017 - 9:15 am

A fishing vessel caught fire near Gabriola Island on the evening of Thursday, August 30, 2017. The vessel was under tow, moving from Petersburg, Alaska to Bellingham, Washington. Canadian Coast Guard reports the five people who were aboard the vessel at the time of the fire were safely rescued. Canadian Coast Guard and B.C. Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy monitored the situation throughout the night.

As of this morning, the vessel is completely underwater. Due to reports of fuel on board, boom was deployed around the vessel before it had fully submerged.

Two Environmental Emergency Response Officers (EEROs) and Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) are en route to the incident to assess the situation. Transport Canada is planning an overflight of the area with their National Aeronautics Surveillance Program (NASP) plane later today to evaluate the incident from the air. Response crews are currently on site, sweeping the area to determine if the vessel has sunk entirely. 

The Regional District of Nanaimo and First Nations communities in the area have been notified.

Further updates will be provided as more information becomes available. 



Incident Location