The provincial government says it wants BC Ferries to be more responsible about whom it sells decommissioned vessels to – to prevent more abandoned ships from cluttering the shoreline.

Some salvage speculators are stowing derelict former ferries on the coast, leaving them unsupervised for extended periods, and 10 more aging vessels are set to be decommissioned over the next five years.

CTV News contacted the Ministry of Transportation to ask whether it had considered pressuring BC Ferries to be more stringent about buyers, but was initially told that the process was the former Crown corporation’s sole responsibility.

“Disposal of surplus assets is an operational issue and therefore the responsibility of the BC Ferry Corporation,” spokeswoman Kate Trotter said in an email.

But Environment Minister Terry Lake said setting sale conditions could help ensure buyers take better care of their purchases.

And on Thursday, following multiple interview requests, minister Blair Lekstrom contacted CTV to say he would open a dialogue with CEO Mike Corrigan.

“I am going to be speaking to Mr. Corrigan at BC Ferries about the issue to see if there is anything that can be done,” Corrigan said.

“I think there is an obligation on the purchaser,” he added. “With that in mind, I will be speaking with my federal counterpart about the issue to see if there is more that can be done.”

Curbing the trend may require fine-tuning the Federal Navigational Act, giving Ottawa and perhaps B.C. more power to fine irresponsible ship owners, confiscate vessels and moor them in safer waters.

The issue of derelict ships made headlines last month when the province declared an environmental emergency after rising water on the Fraser River put another decommissioned ferry, the Queen of Sidney, and six more abandoned vessels in danger of breaking free from their moorings.

The federal government says it is aware of the problem of derelict vessels and is compiling an inventory and inspection report of all such boats.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Peter Grainger