The federal government has awarded a $364,000 contract to Salish Sea Industrial Services to remove and dismantle 16 derelict boats from Sooke Harbour and Pender Island.

It's the Victoria company's fourth contract with the federal government for this type of work. 

"We are a marine construction company," said operations manager Rob Menzies on Tuesday. "We utilize marine construction equipment, mainly barges and cranes."

Menzies said the company targets areas with multiple vessels in a single location in order to maximize efficiencies. In total, eight vessels will be removed from each of the two locations. 

Once removed, they will be barged to the company's main yard in Victoria's Upper Harbour. From there they will be tested for any hazardous materials like asbestos, lead paint or leachable metals. Once those hazardous materials are dealt with, the vessels will be broken down. Anything that can be recycled will be and the remaining materials will be sent to the landfill. 

"This is definitely a feel-good project for us," said Menzies. "We're all engaged in it and have the support of our group, owners and the federal government."

It's estimated that there are more than 800 abandoned and derelict boats on Canada's West Coast, a problem that the federal government is just beginning to address. 

Bill C-64 came into effect this week, essentially making boat owners liable for the disposal of their vessels. Boat owners who do not comply can face fines up to $50,000 and can be pursued with criminal charges.

Funding for the boat-removal project comes from Ottawa's $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Program.

Work is set to begin at Pender Island in September, followed by Sooke.