The Steveston Harbour Authority (SHA) has gone to court to remove an “unseaworthy” fishing ship that caught on fire in the harbour in September.
The SHA claims, in a lawsuit filed on Oct. 19, that the ship “Pathfinder III” is in breach of its moorage agreement and its condition is posing a risk to the Fraser River estuary.
Pathfinder III is a wooden fishing vessel measuring almost 15 metres in length. It was registered at the port of Victoria.
Its beneficial owners, Wanda Lubisz and the estate of her deceased husband, Jerzy Lubisz, were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
According to SHA, it entered into a moorage agreement with Pathfinder III and its owners in 2021, requiring liability insurance with wreck removal and accidental pollution coverage.
The agreement also asks Pathfinder III and its owners to either provide proof of insurance within two days of demand or leave the moorage location.
SHA said Pathfinder III failed to provide proof of insurance when asked in August, and it failed to leave the harbour.
The ship then caught fire on Sept. 17, reads the lawsuit, and is posing an “unreasonable burden” on the harbour because they have to “monitor it constantly and keep pumps going to prevent it from sinking.”
The harbour authority claimed the ship is uninsured and is in “unseaworthy condition” while “deteriorating without any reasonable regard to the state of the ship.”
“The (Pathfinder III) is in a hazardous condition and poses a risk to the surrounding marine environment, namely the Fraser River estuary,” reads SHA’s lawsuit.
The harbour authority argues it's authorized to prohibit people from using its premises since it has a head lease with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to manage to the harbour, and Pathfinder III is therefore trespassing on its property.
SHA further claims Pathfinder III is causing a nuisance by “substantially and unreasonable interfering” with its ability to “let out a prime berthage slip to other active commercial fishing vessels.”
It’s asking the court to order a permanent injunction to ban Pathfinder III from its property and issue a judgment against the ship and its owners for breach of contract, trespass, nuisance and damages.
None of the allegations have been proven in court. The owners of Pathfinder III have 21 days from being served to respond to the allegations.