The Canadian Coast Guard’s only search and rescue dive team is being shut down, ahead of boating season.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans confirmed the Sea Island dive team in Richmond is being dismantled, with funding being re-directed to “enhance search and rescue capacity and response,” including for four new lifeboat stations around Vancouver.
The dive team, set up in 1995, has some of the highest levels of diving certifications, with members able to enter wrecked or submerged vessels, vehicles and aircrafts since 2013.
The DFO said these skills are “not part of the core search and rescue mandate.”
The Kitsilano Coast Guard station was shut down in 2013, despite many concerns over slower response times to boaters in trouble and oil spills, but was re-instated last summer.
“With last summer’s re-opening of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station, and expanding its mandate to include emergency environmental response, Vancouver harbour is safer than it was two years ago and the entire coast will be safer than it has ever been once all these historic investments will have been made,” the DFO said in a statement.
Dive team members will be transferred to other positions in the Coast Guard, while the search and rescue program on Sea Island will remain.
More to come.