Derelict, Abandoned & At Risk Vessels

At Risk Vessels

AT RISK vessels are a concern for the boating public in the state of Florida. Presently, State, County, and Local Law Enforcement Officers are keeping their eyes on these vessels. If an officer sees a vessel that is AT RISK, he will enter the vessel information into a Statewide Database and will leave a notice on the vessel for the owner to take action.

The Florida At-Risk Vessel Program was started by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in 2010. This program has also been shared with 59 other Law Enforcement Agencies throughout Florida and continues to grow. The purpose of the program is an attempt to reduce the number of derelict vessels that cause both navigational and environmental hazards in Florida's waterways. The program is a method where law enforcement personnel attempt to communicate with the vessel owners when the officers see the vessel displaying conditions that usually precede a derelict condition. In many cases this is successful with the owner bringing the vessel into a better state of care. Once the vessel becomes legally derelict, the vessel may be removed by law enforcement authority at the owner's expense, criminal charges may be filed and the owner could face fines, fees and even jail time. This program is an effort to avoid the vessel becoming derelict through community policing activity.

Claiming Abandoned Vessels

In the State of Florida there are no "Vessel Salvage Rights". In order to claim title to an abandoned vessel, you must follow the Statutes for Found Property. 705.102 FS requires a person to report found property to Law Enforcement.  After this has been done, you may begin the process of claiming found property.

Useful Links for Vessel Buyers & Sellers

In Florida there is a legal requirement to complete when buying or selling a vessel. It requires more than just a bill of sale, and if not done correctly could subject you to criminal charges, Fines and Fees! Click the link above to see how to properly buy and sell vessels in Florida.

No person shall sell, assign or transfer a vessel titled by the State of Florida without delivering to the purchaser or transferee a valid certificate of title with an assignment on it showing transfer of title to the purchaser or transferee. No person shall purchase or otherwise acquire a vessel required to be titled by the state without obtaining a certificate of title for it in their name.

Vessel sellers are required by Florida law to notify the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles that they have sold their vessel within 30 days of the sale. Failure to do so could result in criminal charges to the seller.

Abandoned Vessels

Florida is plagued with many abandoned vessels. These vessels become derelict vessels quickly and then subject the boating public to safety issues, become locations for illegal activity, illegal housing, opportunities for theft and vandalism and ultimately cost the taxpayers to be removed by Local, County or State authorities.

FWC Facts:
Navigation charts identify seagrass beds as light green or marked as "grs" on the chart.

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