FWC launches database to help reduce derelict vessels
Friday, November 19, 2010
Media contact: Katie Purcell, 850-459-6585
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) launched a program this week to help prevent
vessels in state waterways from becoming derelict. Through the
At-Risk Vessel Program, FWC officers will collaborate with local
sheriffs' offices and police departments to enter information about
potential derelict vessels into a statewide database.
"The new At-Risk Vessel Program gives law
enforcement an opportunity to establish communications with a
vessel owner before the vessel becomes derelict," said Capt.
Richard Moore, of the FWC's Boating and Waterways section.
When an officer encounters an at-risk vessel, he
will post a notice on the vessel, listing the items of concern,
then collect information about the vessel and enter it into a
statewide database. Photographs and information about the vessel
will be displayed on a map, available to the public to view
beginning Dec. 1. A letter will also be mailed to the registered
Officially defined in Florida Statute 823.11,
derelict vessels essentially are ones that have been abandoned and
allowed to deteriorate in public waters. Aside from being eyesores,
derelict vessels can pose environmental, public safety and
The FWC considers a vessel to be "at-risk" when it
appears likely to reach a derelict condition and causes an officer
to have just concern for its welfare.
Derelict vessels are subject to removal at the
owner's expense, which can exceed $100,000 for very large vessels.
If the owner does not remove the vessel, he may be charged with a
felony, lose vehicle and vessel registration privileges, incur
other legal and court costs or be forced to reimburse the city,
county or state for the cost of removal, depending on
If the owner cannot be determined or located, the
burden of removing the vessel falls on Florida taxpayers. The FWC,
tasked with monitoring Florida's derelict vessel problem,
encourages the public to properly dispose of old or unwanted
vessels, rather than abandon them in waterways.
"Both the seller and buyer of a vessel are required
by law to report the sale to the Department of Highway Safety and
Motor Vehicles within 30 days after the transaction," said Phil
Horning, also of the FWC. "If you don't transfer the title and
re-register the vessel properly, the former owner could be
responsible for the vessel if it becomes derelict."
Nineteen sheriffs' offices and 13 police
departments around the state have already joined the At-Risk Vessel
Program. The FWC is working to create more partnerships.
"Networking with other agencies about specific
vessels is a great part of this program," Moore said. "It should
make the process more efficient and stop redundant
The database allows law enforcement officials to
consolidate evidence for future cases as well as establish proof of
communication with vessel owners before going to court. Local
governments and state officials can also benefit by quickly
determining the status of derelict vessels in specific areas of
"We hope this program will reduce and minimize the
derelict vessel problem in our state, making our waterways safer
and cleaner for the future," said Lt. Darrin Riley, statewide
derelict vessel coordinator.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection
and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration assisted in
funding this project.
The new Statewide At-Risk and Derelict Vessel Map
will become active on Dec. 1. To view it at that time and
thereafter, or for more information about the At-Risk Vessel
Program, visit MyFWC.com/Boating.