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Derelict and At-Risk Vessels

Derelict and at-risk vessels are a concern because they can endanger marine life and habitat, pose threats to public safety, and cause property damage as they drift on or beneath the water’s surface. Derelict vessels that block navigable waterways can also pose a navigational hazard. Law enforcement officers with the FWC as well as state, county, and local officers conduct periodic inspections and take appropriate actions to reduce the risk these vessels present.


A derelict vessel is defined as one that is:

  • Wrecked, junked, or in substantially dismantled condition upon any waters of this state.
    • A “wrecked” vessel is one that is sunken or sinking; aground without the ability to extricate itself absent mechanical assistance; or remaining after a marine casualty, including, but not limited to, a boating accident, extreme weather, or a fire.
    • A “junked” vessel is one that has been substantially stripped of vessel components, if vessel components have substantially degraded or been destroyed, or if the vessel has been discarded by the owner or operator. 
    • A vessel is “substantially dismantled” if at least two of the three following vessel systems or components are missing, compromised, incomplete, inoperable, or broken:
      • The steering system;
      • The propulsion system; or
      • The exterior hull integrity

NOTE: Attaching an outboard motor to a vessel that is junked or substantially dismantled will not cause the vessel to no longer be junked or substantially dismantled if such motor is not an effective means of propulsion as required by 327.4107(2)(e), F.S. and associated rules.

  • Located at any port in Florida without the consent of the agency having jurisdiction thereof.
  • Docked or grounded at or beached upon the property of another without the consent of the property owner.

Learn more about derelict vessel removal.

See this interactive map showing derelict vessels throughout Florida

A vessel that is at risk of becoming derelict.

FWC officers or officers from a law enforcement agency specified in 327.70, F.S. may determine a vessel is at risk of becoming derelict if any of the following conditions exist:

  • The vessel is taking on or has taken on water without an effective means to dewater.
  • Spaces on the vessel that are designed to be enclosed are incapable of being sealed off or remain open to the elements for extended periods of time.
  • The vessel has broken loose or is in danger of breaking loose from its anchor.
  • The vessel is listing due to water intrusion.
  • The vessel does not have an effective means of propulsion for safe navigation within 72 hours after the vessel owner or operator receives telephonic or written notice, which may be provided by facsimile, electronic mail, or other electronic means, stating such from an officer, and the vessel owner or operator is unable to provide a receipt, proof of purchase, or other documentation of having ordered necessary parts for vessel repair.
  • The vessel is tied to an unlawful or unpermitted structure or mooring.

Periodic vessel inspections by law enforcement coupled with at-risk vessel citations and warnings work to encourage at-risk vessel owners to bring their vessel into compliance before it becomes derelict.

Learn more about at-risk vessels.

Florida Vessel Turn-In Program (VTIP)

If you have received at least one written at-risk warning or citation for your vessel being at risk and find you are unable to care for your vessel, we can assist in disposing an unwanted, at-risk vessel at no cost to you through our Florida Vessel Turn-In Program (VTIP).

A vessel is declared a public nuisance and may be removed as if it were derelict when the owner has been cited three times within an 18-month period for the same at-risk conditions, without acquittal or dismissal. 

This provides a way to remove vessels from the water BEFORE they become derelict. Because at-risk vessels are still afloat, they are less expensive to remove than derelict vessels.

Vessel Turn-In Program (VTIP)

If you have received at least one written at-risk warning or citation and are unable to bring your vessel into compliance, you can voluntarily surrender the vessel to the FWC. The FWC will dispose the vessel at no cost to you through its Vessel Turn-In Program (VTIP) 

Florida Vessell Turn-In Program_Resized

Florida's Vessel Turn-In Program or VTIP is designed to prevent at-risk vessels from becoming derelict. Derelict vessels pose hazards to public safety and the environment, are more costly to remove, and can incur criminal liability for the owner. VTIP removes and destroys unwanted, at-risk vessels at no cost to the vessel owner. 

The costs of removing, destroying and disposing eligible VTIP vessels are 100% funded by this program. Opportunities to remove unwanted, at-risk vessels through VTIP are awarded on a first come, first served basis. FWC accepts applications until available funding has been exhausted or the program ends, whichever occurs first.

Learn about how to qualify and apply for VTIP.

Information for Vessel Buyers and Sellers

Did you know buying or selling a vessel in Florida requires more than just a bill of sale?

To sell, assign or transfer a vessel titled by the State of Florida, a certificate of title with an assignment on it showing transfer of title to the purchaser or transferee must be delivered to the purchaser or transferee. A person purchasing or acquiring a vessel required to be titled by the state must obtain 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 they have sold their vessel within 30 days of the sale. Vessel buyers also have 30 days to transfer the title. By following these procedures, you can avoid fines and fees!